Image of a Beaver

Muskrat or Beaver?

Beavers and muskrats are semiaquatic animals that share a number of similarities which make it hard for many people to tell them apart. Both rodents have water-resistant fur in shades of brown.

In addition, muskrats and beavers build their dens in water, often coexisting in the same lodge. They also cause related property damage.

To properly control either pest, it's important to know the source of the problem. A few quick tips can aid in identifying muskrat vs. beaver infestations.

Differences in Appearance & Behavior

From a distance, telling the difference between a beaver and a muskrat isn't easy. However, these animals have a few distinct traits:

  • Size - Beavers are large rodents that weigh up to 60 pounds. The much smaller muskrat averages about four pounds.
  • Tails - A wide, leathery, and paddle-like tail is a beaver's most recognizable feature, while a muskrat tail is long and narrow with flat sides.
  • Movement - Another key to beaver vs. muskrat identification is the way they travel in water. When swimming, only a beaver's head is visible. In contrast, an observer would see a muskrat's entire body as it moves through the water.
  • Tracks - A beaver has webbed hind feet, but its broad tail often sweeps away part of its tracks. Muskrats have only partial webbing on their toes, and their tails leave long, skinny drag marks.
  • Diet - As strict vegetarians, beavers eat plants and the soft tissue beneath tree bark. Muskrats are fond of cattails as well as crayfish.

Muskrat vs. Beaver Problems

Either muskrats or beavers can destabilize the banks of rivers, ponds, and reservoirs with their burrows. This damage causes washouts that are dangerous for properties downstream. Both animals girdle trees, but beavers leave chiseled logs and stumps in their wake.

Overall, beavers cause more damage than muskrats because of their lodges and dams. These structures can result in the severe flooding of houses near rivers and streams. A beaver will also block pipes with sticks and mud, which can create issues for entire neighborhoods.

Prevention & Removal

Homeowners concerned about muskrats or beavers should call the experts at Critter Control. Technicians can provide swift, humane solutions for wildlife affecting homes and property.