Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent animals from chewing my fountain power cord?
Barbara – Little Falls, NJ
A: Surprise, surprise! You’re doing your winter-prep chores and, lo and behold, you discover that a tiny interloper has been gnawing at your fountain’s power cord. Just about aquatic or semi-aquatic animal that can chew or break something open with its mouth could be the culprit—but most likely, your cord chewer is none other than the muskrat.
Muskrats, semi-aquatic rodents that are native to North America, live in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats (including your pond or lake). They measure 16 to 28 inches long—with almost half of that being their flattened, scale-covered tail—and weigh between 1½ to 4½ pounds. They’re double-coated in short, thick, medium to dark brown or black fur that insulates them from chilly water.
These furry little critters love to spend time submerged. Because they are less sensitive to carbon dioxide buildup that other mammals, they can stay under water for 12 to 17 minutes before they need to come up for air—giving them plenty of time to do damage to your power cords.
Born to Chew
As rodents, muskets must chew and gnaw on things to wear down their continuously growing incisors. In wild lakes and water bodies, they grind on cattails and other aquatic vegetation, along with the occasional crayfish, turtle and frog for sustenance.
In human-made lakes and ponds, however, muskrats also chew on cords, preferring the parts near a fountain’s motor or where it exits the pond. No one knows why muskrats like to sink their teeth into electrical cords, but they do. So what do you do?
Wrap It Up
To prevent muskrats and other water-dwelling chewers from damaging your fountain’s power cord, invest in some power cord wrapping (also called rat cord). This woven material limits or prevents animals from chewing through the cord’s plastic sheathing.
Now, while your fountain is pulled out of your lake or pond for the winter season, is the perfect time of year to cover your power cord in this protective material. A little maintenance and prevention will go a long way to stop those interlopers from damaging your equipment.
Pond Talk: What do you do to prevent muskrats and other semi-aquatic critters from moving into your pond or lake?