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National Wildlife Control Training Program vol. 1.

Muskrat Control

Scientific Name: Ondatra zibethicus

Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus photo by Ed Kellems
Muskrat--Photo by Ed Kellems


  • Lives in water and marsh areas.
  • Diurnal




  • Runs or trails in the mud of pond bottoms leading to burrows just below water’s edge.
  •  Clipped aquatic vegetation or remains of crayfish, fish and mussels.
  • Four-toed 1in. X 1 in. front and five-toed 2 in. X 2 in. hind tracks with undulating tail drag mark
muskrat habitat
Description: Shows typical marsh inhabited by muskrats
Muskrat hut--may be made of cattails or other marsh plants.
Credit: Edward D. Kellems
  Muskrat foods--Include corn, found here as evidence in the water near muskrat den.













  • burrow damage to ponds, reservoirs, shoreline landscapes; Eats aquatic or landscape plants: cattail, bulrush, water lily, duck potato. Eats Bermuda grass, Johnson grass, orchard grass and clovers.
  • consumption of aquatic plants and shellfish
  • may damage Styrofoam marinas, docks, and boathouses.
  • eats corn, soybean, wheat, oats, grain sorghum, sugarcane, rice.

Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Alter habitat via grading to shallow slopes;
  • remove emergent vegetation or placing bank control structures.
  • Change proper dam or shore construction


  • None known
muskrat sized body-grip trap
Muskrat body grip trap
Photo Credits: Dave Purwin photo courtesy of Alan Huot


  • Body grip, foot hold or colony cage traps.


  •   Not particularly effective for large numbers. 

Fumigants & Toxicants

  • zinc phosphide

Safety & Disease Hazards

  • May damage levees, and other water-holding structures, causing flooding.
  • Tularemia

Living with Muskrats

Muskrat--Illinois Department of Natural Resources

University Publications

Identifying and Managing Aquatic Rodents in Texas:Identifying and Managing Aquatic Rodents in Texas: Beaver, Nutria and Muskrats Beaver,Nutria and Muskrats by Texas Agricultural Extension Service.1986. 46 pages. 8½x11'' pages. Color photos.

This document, suitable for inclusion in a 3-ring binder, will help landowners understand and address damage caused by beaver, nutria and muskrats.

Order On-Line

Dam Safety: Rodent Control (muskrats and others)--Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources Division of Water Publications

Muskrats: Urban Wildlife Damage Control--Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service


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