What Are the Differences between Woodchucks and Muskrats?

While woodchucks and muskrats both damage homes, lawns, gardens, and crops, the pests' habitats and diets can help homeowners tell them apart. Woodchucks live in wooded areas or farm lands and eat plants such as grasses and alfalfa. In contrast, muskrats typically live near water and feed on aquatic plants or garden crops.

These burrowing pests also differ in appearance. Both species typically have brown fur and stocky, muscular builds. However, muskrats are much smaller and may range in color from white to black. In addition, muskrats' hairless, scaly tails distinguish them from woodchucks, which have tails that are thick, short, and furry.

Damage Caused by the Pests

Both pests use their sharp teeth and claws to dig under gardens, fields, and houses while seeking food and shelter. When they burrow in yards, muskrats and woodchucks create unsightly mounds, weaken plants' roots, and even damage building foundations. Muskrats may also tunnel into dams and ditches, causing soil erosion and flooding.

Additionally, both pests may carry parasites, like ticks, fleas, and mites, and muskrats emit strong, musky odors during breeding season. Since both pests can lead to costly home and lawn repairs, concerned homeowners should seek help from pest control specialists to remove in festations.