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Muskrats

Muskrats are typically 40 to 60 centimetres long and weigh anywhere from 680 grams to 1.8 kilograms.

Muskrats have a thick cover of short brown fur. Their tails, which make up almost half of their length, are flat and scaled. It is commonly confused with the Norway Rat, which has a round tail.

Muskrat tracks are easy to identify because their tail drags through the dirt behind them.

Behaviour
Muskrats have a semi-aquatic life, frequently spending time in water. Accordingly, they are often found near wetlands, lakes, rivers and ponds. They typically live in groups within extensive underground burrows.  

Muskrats tend to feed on aquatic vegetation, but occasionally eat small marine animals; in turn, muskrats are an important food source for a number of other animals, including foxes, coyotes and birds of prey.

They are most active at dusk, dawn or during the night.

Muskrats can mate several times a year between March and September, giving birth to litters of three to seven kits a month after mating.  

Management
Wire netting can be used to protect vulnerable water banks. Simply lay the netting across the banks, at least four feet beneath the waterline and two feet above, to prevent muskrats from tunnelling into the shore.  Trapping is a labour-intensive, but potentially effective method of managing muskrats.  Strathcona County will only remove muskrats impacting County infrastructure.

Further information
Transportation and Agriculture Services 
780-417-7100
transportationandagriculture@strathcona.ca

Last updated: Friday, January 31, 2014
Page ID: 38891