How to Make Muskrat Removal Successful with Trapping

Edited by
Inga Cryton
Reading Time: 10 minutes.
Updated: .

Have a pond or lake? Then your property can be a prime target for muskrats’ invasion. There are many ways to prevent a muskrat problem. The best way to crack the rodent problem is to eliminate muskrats before they can cause damage.

It’s essential to consider all aspects of muskrat’s control. But the most effective way to eliminate destructive rodents is trapping. Though many people find muskrat trapping a challenge – as these creatures spend a big amount of time in the water – you can trap them successfully with our special tips. Below we provide smart info to help you successfully catch destructive muskrats.

Great tips on how to trap muskrats

Muskrats are unique, wild aquatic rodents – about 2 ft. long – named for their rat-like appearance and musky smell.

Muskrat habitat

Muskrats habitatBeing semi-aquatic, muskrats spend a great amount of time in lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. They feed on vegetation, and the stems of aquatic plants. They also use plants for building river banks and dens.

Although muskrats are generally vegetarians, they can eat salamanders, mussels, newts, crayfish, frogs, and fish.


Muskrats damageMuskrats can quickly reproduce. They are very destructive and can commit damage to your garden. Being vegetarian, this rodent will quickly discover the best plants on your property and eat them during the night.

What’s more, muskrats are well-known for their destructive burrowing in dams, ponds, and streams. Their burrows can lead to huge problems including leaks, runoff, and unwanted flooding.

Muskrat tracks, feeding platforms, droppings on elevated surfaces, burrow entrances, collapsed banks and leaking ponds are signs of a muskrats’ presence.

Think it’s difficult to trap rat-like creatures, as they spend a great amount of time in the water?

Here is how to successfully catch these pesky rodents:

  1. Muskrat in trapChoose the best muskrat trap

    Purchase the trap that is at least thirty/forty inches in length. You can buy one or two door models. Note, each model has its own advantages:

    • One door traps give better bait protection.
    • Two door muskrat traps can be set with 1 or two doors open.

    What’s more the ability to see through the door calms cautious muskrats.

  2. Find out where to place the trap

    We suggest placing it:

    • Along a muskrat run – under water paths used by pesky muskrats when they travel to their feeding platforms or dens.
    • Outside of a burrow entrance – A typical burrow entrance most often located in an outside wall of the waterway.
  3. Muskrat baitBait the trap
    It’s essential to bait the trap properly to force the rodent to engage the trigger. If you use 1 door trap you are to put the bait at the end of the trap. Those who use two door traps must position the bait – like carrots – at the center of the trap.
  4. Traps checkingCheck your Trap
    It’s essential to monitor the trap. Do it often. Note, muskrats can quickly become hungry or anxious. Never leave the cage unattended for a long period of time.
  5. Relocate a muskrat
    After trapping the animal, wear gloves to avoid any contact with it. Drape a cloth over the muskrat trap to keep the rodent calm during transport. Relocate pesky creature to another habitable area at least 5-6 miles from your property.

Muskrat relocating

Live and Lethal Muskrat traps

Trapping is really one of the most effective muskrat control options in case you are using the right trap.

Here is a variety of excellent live and lethal muskrat traps that will help you to crack your muskrat problem.

Live traps

  • Havahart Easy Set Trap Large 1 DoorLarge 1 Door Havahart Easy Set Trap

    Cost: $75.99


    • The trap is set in a quick motion. You can easily do it with just one hand.
    • You don’t have to touch the door of the trap as the trapped muskrat can be safely released from the back of the trap.
    • Additional durability, security and comfort with updated sturdy hardware.
    • Rolled metal edges are safe and polished smooth to protect a muskrat from injuring during transport.
  • Havahart Large Two Door Easy Set TrapLarge Two Door Easy Set Trap by Havahart

    Cost: $79.99


    • Two door trap allows the trapper to create a clear path from 1 end of muskrat trap to the other.
    • Updated door locks make this muskrat trap escape-proof.
  • Havahart Large 1 Door Animal TrapLarge 1 Door Animal Trap by Havahart

    Cost: $49.99


    • The design of the trap allows you to trap, relocate and release muskrats with very little effort.
    • A strong door with rolled trap edgers keeps the muskrat safely inside the trap.
  • Havahart Medium Extra-Long Two Door TrapMedium Extra-Long Two Door Trap by Havahart

    Cost: $53.99


    • Being extra-long the trap provides enough space for lengthy creatures.
    • Makes a very clear path from 1 end to the other.
    • Fast, versatile and working two door trap can be set using only one door in case you want to try different trapping methods.
  • Trap with Easy Released Door by TomahawkTomahawk Trap with Easy Released Door for Muskrats

    Cost: $42.00


    • An easy release durable sliding rear door.

Leg Hold Traps’ Effectiveness

Leg Hold TrapWhen it comes to leg hold traps for muddy muskrats, #1 long spring leg hold is the best option. But you can effectively use just about any type of these traps for ‘rats. Whether you use long spring, coil spring or jump trap – they all will work.

Long spring traps catch muskrats by their legs and come in several sizes.

Where to use them: Entranceways to burrows, known tunnels, and pathways muskrats are active.

Body Grip traps

Body Grip 110These traps also known as Coni-bear consist of 2 square jaws. When the animal passes through the trap, the jaws close around its body killing it quickly.

  • Advantages: Body Grip traps are compact and inexpensive. These traps work well in spring sets.
  • Disadvantages: The triggers can break off after some time.
  • What to purchase: Body Grip 110 – traditional body crashing trap used by trappers. Unlike the coil trap this square heavy steel trap is actually a kill trap.

Muskrat Trap sets

Set your muskrat traps according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For easy one-step setup, buy Easy Set traps. After the trap set, assure there is no debris under the trigger pan. If you place the trap on top of a bank, secure it to the surface to prevent the trap from falling in the water.

There are a huge number of sets to catch a bothersome muskrat. But the most popular are the following:

  • Spring Run setSpring Run set – location where a small stream enters a bigger body of water. Small runs are usually one of the best areas to make set. You can effectively set a muskrat foothold trap in this location. When making this set there is a possibility to trap even a raccoon, so bear this in mind when choosing a trap.
  • Muskrat Runway SetMuskrat Runway Set – used to catch destructive muskrats when these creatures make several trips in the same location. There are two options that can be effectively used to set a trap on a runway. They are: Colony and Body-grip traps. To determine the muskrat run you are to look for a path in shallow water.
  • Muskrat slide setMuskrat slide set – also known as “climb out set” – is a location where pesky muskrats climb out of the water making distinctive slides. It’s very easy to find these slides and construct the trap there. Use foothold traps which you can place in the middle of the muskrat path.

Muskrat bait options

Muskrats give preference to a plant-based diet – fruits, stems, roots and leaves of aquatic vegetation. They also feed on small animals – insects, amphibians, and fish – when vegetation is scarce.

Muskrats feed at all times of the day.

Although muskrats are known as omnivores, these rodents have a strong preference for plants.

The best baits fot muskratsThe best baits to lure a muskrat into your trap are:

  • Apples,
  • Carrots,
  • Parsnips,
  • Oil of anise.

Baiting tips:

  • To give a muskrat a taste of what is inside the trap, create a bait trail that will lead to the trap.
  • Position the bait – like parsnips – far from the walls of muskrat trap to keep a pesky muskrat from being able to steal some tasty bait from the outside.
  • Never use pet food for bait and avoid baits that can attract cats or dogs.

Muskrat trapping tips

  1. Tip 1. Do you know that muskrats’ territory can extend as much as two hundred ft. in diameter? Usually, the territory contains multiple muskrat’s burrow entrances and feeding platforms. For more timely catch we suggest using multiple traps in different areas at the same time.
  2. Tip 2. Place your muskrat trap on a level surface in order for the closure mechanism to work in a good way.
  3. Tip 3. If you have a large population to control, use Colony trap. This cage type trap should be placed in muskrat runs – which can be found in rivers, feeder streams or along shorelines of lakes or ponds. If the set is under water, the trap will kill trapped muskrats. However, muskrats can be trapped alive if you locate a run in shallow water and make the proper set of your trap when less than half of it is under the water line.

Muskrats can become quite a nuisance. Remove unwanted muskrats with special traps. Choose the trap that is profitable for you and use our trapping tips to get the job done.

You can find further details of Rodents Control here.

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