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I have muskrats, what do I do? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I have muskrats, what do I do?

I have muskrats, what do I do? Geoff – Star Junction, PA


When people tell you that digging a farm pond will coax Mother Nature into your backyard you can’t help but get glassy eyed and daydream of giant bucks wandering by to drink from the pond and cute rabbits frolicking by the water’s edge. Now that the pond is in place it seems as if Mother Nature gave you the old “Bait and Switch” as you trip over collapsed trenches in your yard and patch leaky dams caused by muskrats.

Muskrats, at times, can actually be a cool addition to your pond. They will eat some of the weeds that grow around your pond and it is fun to watch them sunbathe and swim around in your pond. However, if it seems like you are spending more time fixing your pond after they wreak havoc on fountain and pump power cords or collapse the perimeter of your pond, then it is time to ask them to move on.

Sometimes ridding your pond of muskrats is a simple as disrupting or removing their habitat. Running an Aeration System in the pond will create a subtle wake that muskrats sometimes find annoying. One of the benefits of aeration is that is also helps reduce and prevent weed growth. If you go around and treat the weeds in your pond this season you will successfully remove some of their habitat and your aeration will help prevent it from growing back next season. There are many tools available to aid in your quest for a weed free pond that range from Aquatic Algaecides and Herbicides, to Lake Rakes and Weed Razers. When possible, fill in or collapse any holes they dig as this can deter them from sticking around as well.

If your resident muskrats are not to keen on picking up subtle hints, then it’s time to get physical. Purchase a Muskrat Trap or two, place them near their tunnels with some bait (apples work well) and wait for them to investigate. Once you have them under lock and key it is time to take them for a long trip to relocate them to a distant pond or lake.

For more information on ridding your pond of muskrats and a couple extra cool facts read back to our previous Blog on the topic.

POND TALK: Do you enjoy seeing muskrats in your pond? If not how did you get them to call someone else’s pond home?

Get rid of muskrats fast!

6 Responses

  1. We have a koi and goldfish pond that something ate all the koi which were 7+ years old…. found them in bits in the yard. 😦 We thought it was a coon. dh put out traps and caught 5 opossums and released them in the woods far away and we still had problems. then one night my dh saw a muskrat crawl out of the pond and run off. We have a subdivision detention pond and my bil said that hey saw what he thinks is a muskrat den in it. But that is not in our yard so we really can’t put a trap up on it. He has been using traps similar to what I see on your page but we haven’t caught him yet.
    He has already eaten about 15 koi and all our good size gold fish. What do you use as bait? Any other suggestions?

    • Joy,

      Muskrats are herbivores, meaning that they are vegetation eaters. They can wreak havoc on your pond plants and be very destructive to your pond liner with their sharp claws. Trap them using fresh vegetables like carrots or apples. So that being said, it is unlikely that your fish eater is a muskrat.

      Your predator is more than likely a raccoon, however there are other types of predators that do enjoy visiting ponds for a meal. The Great Blue Heron, mink or beavers. Providing physical barriers around the pond to make it less accessible to the raccoons, is helpful to keep them from just reaching in to catch the fish. Using netting is also a deterrent for predators that visit your pond.

  2. We had a muscrat when we moved into this home 2 yrs. ago. Fortunately, we found him lying dead along the bank of the pond. Now, we cannot keep water in our pond. I was told from a neighbor the previous owners put a hose in the pond to keep full. (I don’t think they knew they had a serious problem) The pond is about 1/4 acre. I was hoping to let it dry up as much as possible to see if I could find any holes that is causing the leak. The neighbor behind our house also has a pond and the two were dug the same time. His pond is full to the brim and beautiful. Could that nasty muscrat have caused our pond to leak and if so how do I find out where it is coming from and how do I fix it. There are burrows all around the south edge of the pond. No more muscrat activity though. Someone please help if you know anything about this problem. I am so upset because my husband and I had such vision of the beautiful clear water with frogs and turtles and fish. Well, that aint happening! Thanks for any help at all.

  3. We have had muskrats in our detention ponds and creek for about 4 years. The first year it was fun to watch as they sometimes play like otters. However, after breaking through a tunnel and almost breaking an ankle, it was time for a MAJOR change. We hired a relocation/ extermination service to remove the “few” that we thought we had. A thousand dollars and 19 muskrats later, it was winter! The next year, we removed 11 and this year we have taken out 4. We had not seen any for a couple of months, but yesterday saw one moving vegetation to the same den that we have destroyed 3 times! As to moving them to another pond or lake, why inflict them on someone else? What the service does with them is a secret that they keep, but they are licensed to do with them whatever is required.

    Geof Bush
    Kestrel Community Management, LLC
    Belleville, MI

  4. I had a muskrat in my 2000 gallon backyard pond early last spring. I had a net over it from the winter and it managed to bite through it and get into my pond. Once I realized this I did some investigating and found out that he had made a home inside my filter box. He had stuffed it with grass and twigs. I was fearful he was going to eat my Koi and goldfish.

    No matter how many times I stitched up my pond net he would just bite through a different section and get in.

    I finally placed a metal trap out and caught him and never had a problem since.

  5. Deepest sympathy about the muskrat invasion. Was once mightily dismayed, while staying in a state park, to hear pre-dawn gunshots and find ranger with rifle, out picking off muskrats at the pond. Later understood why — but still can’t accept that as the way to go.
    Loved Pond Guy’s understanding of that romantic dream of the wildlife that a pond draws! And, his solutions when reality creeps in.
    Being temporarily pondless, atop a dry clay ridge, I recently put out a couple of shallow, long flat plastic boxes for watering the birds I hoped would stay and de-bug the dooryard garden, in this awful heat and drought.
    Well, the birds are wonderful. But there came a bonus, a few nights ago. Right at dusk, new voices joined in raucous song, right at the front porch. Frogs — of a jillion sorts. Goodness knows how far they’d come, but it is so lovely — and they are more efficient de-buggers than the birds.
    All this to say, the smallest offerings of clean drinking and bath water pay wondrous dividends in a garden. Frequent changing thwarts mosquito wiggle-tails. To serve the most, easily accessed and exited ground-level containers are the best.

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