Muskrat are a smaller aquatic rodent in Ontario. Many times being confused with a beaver but they are much smaller with a long narrow tail and do not have webbed feet. Unlike beaver or otters, muskrats have a fringe of hairs on their hind feet which makes swimming easier. They more closely resembles a rat and can often be mistaken for one.
Muskrats are rodents and like beaver they need to chew to keep there teeth worn down. Their four incisor teeth are about 2cm long. They don’t tend to chew on trees like beaver, but more tend to gnaw on roots and cattails.
Muskrats do not build dams. Though their cattail cuttings could flow into an area creating a water blockage. They do build a house like a beaver in almost the same dome shape but the houses are much smaller, usually made of cattails and reeds. Muskrats usually construct their houses during the fall months.
The problems muskrats do cause can be quite severe. In our local area tunnelling their dens into the sides of ponds and lagoons is the most frequent and serious issue. Muskrats also feed on the bright white or yellow roots and tubers underwater. Often mistaking anything white underwater for this. We have seen them chewing on pipes, lines boats and styrofoam floats in docks and more.
The most effective way to rid of problem muskrats is through trapping and setting up a removal program. Using exclusion and habitat modification methods are much more difficult to be successful. Muskrats are generally not aggressive but can be if cornered. Likely the most common harm a muskrat may do to a human would be from someone stepping in a run or hole created by their bank dens.