How to Setup a Muskrat Den Set

Photoby g_jewels / CC BY / CC BY

What is a Muskrat Den Set?
While most of the traps and sets that you read about regarding muskrat involve the various features of their very obvious trails in some way or the other, this particular set eschews the trail completely. Muskrats either live in lodges made of reeds or underwater burrows dug into the banks of streams; these dwellings are generally referred to as “dens”.

And any set that takes advantage of the entrance of such a muskrat den is called, not surprisingly, a Muskrat Den Set. This article serves to educate you on the basics of the Muskrat Den Set, along with the pros and cons of using them.

Basic Setup:
Like most muskrat sets, this one is also named after the location of the trap as opposed to its construction. This means that, theoretically at least, you could use any water-based trap designed for a muskrat with this set. Practically however, you are most likely to catch a muskrat is you use a Body Gripping trap (Conibear, for instance) or a Foothold trap. The Conibear Traps are markedly more successful than the Foothold ones, but if your state prohibits their use, then the foothold trap is a decent alternative, especially if supplemented with support and tangle stakes.

Locating the den is a fairly straightforward process. The lodges are easily spotted because they resemble a small stack of hay sticking out of the water. The underwater bank dens are a bit trickier to locate, but are still fairly obvious because of the constantly disturbed earth just outside the den entrance. So if you see muddy water leading away from the bank, you should examine it for a muskrat den.

Please note that you should consider getting wet when looking for these bank dens because they can cave under your weight if you just walk along the bank itself. Also, if you somehow happen to locate an obvious bank den that does not have freshly disturbed earth near the entrance, it has probably been abandoned and you should move on.

Once the den has been located, all that’s left is to set the trap. The Conibear trap should be set just outside the den entrance, but preferably as close to the underwater earth as possible. Use a vertical support rod or stick to firmly fasten the trap in place. You could also use smaller twigs and sticks to funnel the animal even further into the path of the trap. The support rod also serves as a marker for the trap site if you want.

Advantages of this Set:

No bait or lure is necessary for this trap. In fact, bait is best avoided in order to minimize the risk of luring other species to the trap.
Quite easy to set up once the den has been located. All you need is to purchase a conibear or foothold trap from your local Hunting store or online.
Disadvantages of this Set:

It can be a bit dangerous to locate the dens without entering the water, as they can cave in under your weight. And if you enter the water, then you will get…well, wet.