How to Get Rid of Muskrats Humanely

Physical removal, repelling, and habitat modification are all important components of an integrated muskrat control plan. Below, learn how to get rid of muskrats with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips from the experts at Havahart®

Other Photos:
Swimming Muskrat
Muskrat Family
Eating Muskrat
How to Get Rid Of

1Reduce Attractants

Muskrats love to eat aquatic vegetation, so they tend to inhabit wetland areas rich in this type of food. When there is a lack of available food, most muskrats are forced to relocate to a more suitable environment. Begin your muskrat control plan by reducing the availability of favorite plants like:

  • arrowhead
  • pond weeds
  • cattail
  • sedges
  • ferns
  • water lilies
  • rushes
  • willow

2Identify Areas of Damage

Muskrats cause most damage when burrowing for shelter in banks and dams. In order to properly execute your control plan, it's important to seek out these burrows as well as other signs of muskrat damage. Some signs to look for include:

muddy water: often a sign of muskrat damage or activity; may indicate the location of runs or burrows

muskrat runs: distinct underwater paths perpendicular to the shoreline where silt has been removed, often leading to a burrow

muskrat burrows: holes about 6-8" in diameter, in a bank or outside wall of the waterway

feeding platforms: elevated, flat pads of mud and vegetation, oftentimes with evidence of droppings and shellfish remains


3Select a Muskrat Control Method

Once you've identified your muskrat damage, you can use the below guidelines to determine the best control method for you. It's important to note that because muskrats spend most of their time in or on the water, they're more challenging to control. The most effective way to get rid of muskrats is through an integrated approach, which incorporates multiple solutions.

Live Muskrat Trap

The best way to get rid of muskrats that are currently living in your waterway is to use a live trap to remove them. The most important factor when trapping is location. The best locations for your trap include:

  • directly outside of a burrow or den
  • along commonly traveled runs
  • secured on top of a floating platform that's anchored to the floor of the waterway

For more trapping tips, read How to Trap a Muskrat »

Electronic Repellents

Once the muskrats have been removed from the area, use electronic repellents to deter them from coming back. A highly effective solution is a motion-activated sprinkler, which frightens muskrats with bursts of water. General guidelines to follow include:

  • Install 1 device every 30-35 feet of shoreline.
  • Position devices around the shoreline to keep muskrats from accessing the water.
  • Point the motion sensor outwards to detect approaching muskrats.

For more repelling tips, read How to Repel Muskrats »


Fencing can be extremely effective at keeping muskrats out of ponds or waterways, but can be quite intrusive and less discreet than electronic repellents. Regardless, proper dimensions and installation are key to success:

  • Ideal fencing material is 1-inch hardwire mesh.
  • A fence should stand at least 1 foot above ground level, and penetrate 3 feet below the water level to avoid burrowing underneath.
  • Fencing must surround the entire perimeter of the pond or waterway in order to keep muskrats out.

Expert Tips

Contact your local wildlife commission before using a live muskrat trap or altering the wetland habitat in your area.

After removing a muskrat with a live trap, fill in the abandoned burrows with gravel or stone to prevent other animals from inhabiting them.

Muskrats reproduce at a very high rate, so the sooner you choose to control them in your area, the better your chances at controlling the area's long-term population.

Because muskrat burrows begin underwater and end underground, their presence is not always evident until major damage occurs. It's important to routinely check along the shoreline for signs of muskrats. If you notice any signs of muskrat damage, take action immediately to prevent a large-scale problem.

How to Trap
How to Repel

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