|Photo from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources|
Muskrats are most active in the evening and this is the best time to catch a glimpse of muskrats in your water. Muskrats can also be detected by finding trails or runs, generally just below the surface of the water. The muskrat has a dense coat of brown fur and emits a musky smell during mating season. A prolific breeder, muskrats can produce several litters of young in a season. Like the beaver, muskrats build dens. However, muskrat dens are constructed mostly of aquatic vegetation instead of sticks.
Burrowing activity is the most common cause of muskrat damage. The burrows often damage the integrity of the shoreline. Undetected burrows can cause collapse of the shoreline which can lead to human injury. Proper construction can help deter the burrowing activity as well as constructing barriers out of fencing. Muskrats also have a nasty habit of chewing on fountain cable. The damage is most often at the ends of the cable run, up to ten feet out from the shore and near the motor lead. Muskrat chew damage often causes the fountain motor to trip. If you have muskrats in your water, AQUA DOC recommends installing aluminum Greenfield, or stainless steel braiding over your cable to protect it.
If you have nuisance muskrats, there are several common methods to help control the rodent. Trapping is the most common method and is very effective. There are several companies who provide this service. Habitat modification, such as removing a major food source like cattails, can deter the muskrats from making their home in your water. Using toxicants is another effective method of control.
For more information on muskrat damage and control, please feel free to call AQUA DOC's Aquatic Specialists or leave a question in the comment section. We're here to help.
Here's to open waters!
~ The Frogger Blogger