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muskrat

Introduction

Muskrats are semiaquatic mammals that are part of the rodent family. They can be found living throughout the entire state of Missouri. Muskrats are commonly hunted for their pelts because their fur is used in the manufacturing of coats.

Recognition

Adult muskrats grow to be about 8-18 inches in length (not including their tail), and can weigh between 1 ½ and 5 pounds. They have a short stocky body which is varied in color. The fur on their back is blackish-brown in color, the fur on their sides is reddish brown in color, their underbelly is lighter in color, and the fur on their throat is whitish.

Muskrats, like other rodents, have a large pair of front incisors which are used to cut through the vegetation that they feed on. They have a specially developed mouth that allows their lips to close behind their incisors- this allows them to cut through plants underwater. Muskrats have short front legs with small feet, large back legs and back feet that are partially webbed, and they have a scaly tail that they use to help them turn while swimming.

Muskrats have scent glands that produce an unpleasant “musky” smell. They use this scent to mark their territory and to attract mates during breeding season.

Biology

The breeding season for muskrats usually runs from mid-September until the end of May (peek breeding season occurs in March, April, and May). During the breeding season both female and male muskrats will aggressively defend their territory. Mating generally occurs in the water and the gestation period is 25-30 days. The average litter size is 4-8, each female will have 2-3 litters of young per year and the young are primarily cared for by the females.

Young muskrats are born blind and naked but develop very quickly. At just two weeks of age they have fur, their eyes are open, and they begin to learn to swim and dive. At 3-4 weeks of age they are weaned from their mother.

Habits

Muskrats are usually found living in and around marshes, streams, ponds, and lakes. They will dig burrows into the edge of the banks or they may create a burrow inside of thick vegetation located in shallow waters. The extensive burrows and tunnels that they create is what makes them such a dangerous pest. They will damage and destroy shore lines, rice and other crops, boat docks, marinas, and dams.

Muskrats are omnivores, but mainly feed on vegetation. Aquatic plants, cattails, grasses, field crops (rice), fish, frogs, and snails are all common sources of food for them.

 

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Prevention

Muskrats are an aggressive species that can cause widespread damages to both commercial and residential properties. Putting into place preventative measures is very important to maintain the looks and health of your property; however, preventing problems with muskrats on your own is a very difficult if not nearly impossible task. At Rottler we recommend having experienced professionals help you to put preventative measures into place against muskrats coming on your Missouri property.

Control

The safest and most effective way to control muskrats on your property is to partner with a professional pest control company who has the experience and equipment necessary to locate, trap and humanely remove them from your property. At Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions we can control and remove muskrats from your property through our wildlife control program. Our professionals will inspect your home and property and provide you with the best options available to remove muskrats from it and make necessary changes to help deter them in the future.

Sources

University of Missouri
Missouri Department of Conservation

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