Muskrat Facts

Muskrats are native to North America, with a range that extends from Canada to some northern parts of Mexico. They have also been introduced to Northern Europe, Asia, and South America, mainly for their valued pelts.

Muskrats are carriers of some diseases ((like tularemia, giardiasis and rabies) that may be transmitted to humans and/or pets through a bite, drinking contaminated water, or coming into contact with muskrat flesh.

Pest Tips

Muskrat Habitat

Muskrats are semi-aquatic mammals that inhabit areas abundant in water, such as wetlands, ponds, lakes and marshes.

For shelter, muskrats will either dig tunnels or construct lodges, depending on the immediate habitat. In areas with steep banks or dams, muskrats will dig tunnels that begin underwater and lead up above the water level, where the chamber can remain dry. In other areas without steep walls or dams, muskrats build dome-shaped lodges out of nearby vegetation and mud.


Muskrat damage occurs as a result of their burrowing habits. Damage which can include collapsed banks and leaking pods or dams, is sometimes not obvious until severe destruction occurs, which is why it is important to understand how to identify muskrat burrows and other warning signs.

Signs of a muskrat's presence or damage include:

- Muskrat Tracks: four toes in front and five in the back with visible claws; visible tail mark in between prints

- Muskrat droppings on dry, elevated surfaces such as stumps, logs, rocks or feeding platforms

- Feeding Platforms: elevated, flat pads of mud and vegetation

-Lodges: piles of mud and aquatic vegetation, up to 8 feet in width and 5 feet tall

- Muskrat Burrow Entrances: holes in backs or dams, about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and up to 3 feet below water level


Muskrats are active year-round, and they feed at all times of the day. They are most active at twilight.


Females give birth to 2-3 litters per year, each time yielding an average of 4-8 pups. The size of the litters varies with the seasons, with larger litters being born in spring and summer, and small litters being born in winter. In warmer months, muskrats can give birth to as many as 15 young at once. Newborn muskrats are weaned for about a year before they become independent.


Muskrats gather food within their territories and carry it to feeding platforms on which they eat. These feeding platforms are flat, elevated piles of mud and vegetation, which muskrats construct outside of their living dens.

Social Interaction

As monogamous breeders, muskrats live with their mates and their young. They are very territorial - especially during breeding season.

Trapping Muskrats

Muskrats can cause damage in unwanted environments, which may require you to intervene. Follow these muskrat-trapping steps to ensure you capture the animal safely and effectively:

Determine Trap Placement

Position your trap in one of two ways:

Along a muskrat run: these are underwater paths muskrats use to travel back and forth to their dens or feeding platforms. The runs are distinct trails in the ground perpendicular to the shoreline.

Outside of a burrow entrance: the best place for your trap is directly outside of a muskrat burrow. A typical entrance is about 6 to 8 inches in diameter, most often located in a bank or outside wall of the waterway. Muskrat runs often lead to burrow entrances.

Kness Pest Defense recommends using our Kage-All Small Animal Trap for your muskrat troubles.

Bait Your Trap

Bait your muskrat trap with apples or starchy root vegetables.

Check Trap Often

Monitoring your trap is very important, because a muskrat can quickly become anxious, hungry and/or vulnerable to predation. Never leave a muskrat trap unattended for long periods of time.

Once Caught

Wear heavy gloves and hold the trap away from your body to avoid contact with the muskrat.

Approach the trap calmly to avoid startling the animal.

Drape a cloth or towel over the trap to keep the muskrat calm during transport.

If local laws permit, relocate your muskrat to another habitable wetland environment, at least 5 miles from your property.


Available from Kness

Kage All® Small Animal Trap Products Kage All® Small Animal Trap

Kage-All® Small Animal Traps are custom designed to trap live animals such as chipmunks, rats, weasels, squirrels, skunks, muskrats, rabbits, cats, raccoons opossums, porcupines, woodchucks, armadillos, foxes and groundhogs.

View Kage-All® Small Animal Traps


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