Muskrat problems? Call 800-CRITTER today for effective trapping solutions to get rid of muskrats and prevent muskrat damage. Description Muskrats are large rodents that live near freshwater wetlands and feast on aquatic plants throughout North America. Classified as fur-bearing animals, muskrats are a valuable source of fur and may only be trapped during certain times of the year by licensed hunters. They are excellent swimmers able to hold their breath for up to 15 minutes and move at speeds of 3 miles per hour. Appearance These large rodents have small eyes, rounded ears, and stocky bodies covered in brown fur. They use their long tails and webbed hind feet to swim through the water, and their short front feet for burrowing or digging up roots. Muskrats have large front teeth capable of chewing through plants such as cattails, water lilies, ferns, and sedges. Typically, muskrats grow to about two feet in length, including their hairless tails. Habitat Muskrats can live in almost any place with sources of open freshwater, such as lakes, slow-moving rivers, marshes, and ponds. They can tolerate a moderate amount of pollution in the water and may even be found near large cities. In order to stay close to their aquatic food sources, muskrats often burrow into the sides of steep embankments, concealing den entrances beneath the surface of the water. If no suitable riverbanks are available, muskrats build dome-shaped lodges in the water from stems, roots, and mud, which serve as shelters from predators and adverse weather. Entry Are muskrats known to enter homes or yards? Since muskrats prefer to live near the water and rely on aquatic plants for food, they have no interest in human houses. People most often encounter muskrats on farms, docks, or marinas, where steep banks holding irrigation systems, docks, and boathouses make attractive sites for the rodent's burrowing. Farmers who raise livestock and operate farm ponds may discover signs of the creatures when hoofed animals break through an embankment and tumble into a shallow muskrat burrow. Damage Do muskrats harm people or property? When muskrat populations grow too large, an event known as an “eat-out” may occur, in which large numbers of the animals eat up aquatic vegetation and strip wetlands of all available food sources in an unsustainable and damaging way. Such an event forces the rodents to move elsewhere in search of new food, and it may take decades for the ravaged ecosystem to recover. Muskrats typically do not harm people but may bite or scratch in defense if cornered. Their feces can contaminate water sources, which leads those who drink the contaminated liquid to develop flu-like symptoms colloquially knows as “beaver fever.” The greatest muskrat damage occurs to man-made dams and dykes. Muskrats often burrow into these structures, compromising their structural integrity. Control and Safety One effective way of discouraging muskrat presence in ponds or riverbanks is to wrap embankments in wire mesh or other barriers. Constructing embankments or dams with gentle slopes as opposed to steep faces also discourages the pests from burrowing. Trapping and Removal Throughout most of the United States, it is illegal for unlicensed individuals to kill muskrats outside of trapping season, even if the animals pose a danger to property. Professionals such as Critter Control specialists are certified to control and remove nuisance muskrats in a humane way. We can help you get rid of muskrat problems. Call today: 1.800.274.8837.