Tips and Techniques To a Muskrat Runway Set

Photoby usfwsmtnprairie / CC BY / CC BY

What is a Muskrat Runway Set?
Muskrats love the water, especially the shallow parts that allow them to occasionally peek up out of the surface. As a result, they dig out furrows into the earth at the bottom of the underwater trail and these furrows are referred to as muskrat “runways”. And as you might imagine, these runways make for very good trapping locations. Any set that takes advantage of a runway to catch a muskrat is called, not surprisingly, a Runway Set. This article seeks to educate you on the basics of how to set up and optimize your set and the pros and cons of doing so.

Basic Setup of a Muskrat Runway Set:
Since this trap, like most muskrat sets, is named more for the location of the set than its construction, you could theoretically use any trap that is designed to catch a muskrat for this set. Practically, however, you are better served restricting yourself to Conibear traps or Box/Cage traps.

Foothold traps are not ideal for this set because the water is too shallow. And as always, be sure to familiarize yourself with the trapping laws in your state before you set one up. If you’ve decided to go with the Conibear variant, then make sure that the entire trap is submerged.

Trap to catch muskrat
Conibear Muskrat Trap
This will ensure that the muskrat drowns. Also note that you will need to secure the trap in the runway using a sturdy vertical support rod or stick. Once the trap is fastened, you could use other smaller twigs and sticks to block off the area around the runway, though this is an optional step as muskrats are nothing if not creatures of habit.

box trap for muskrat
Box Trap for Muskrat
The Box or Cage trap variant is even easier to set up. All you have to do is place the trap along the runway and you’re golden. Make sure to weigh the trap with some stones or something similar, however, because you don’t want the flowing water to move the cage. And as with the Conibear variant, make sure to submerge the trap completely in order to facilitate the quick drowning of the muskrat. Use double ended versions and if you’re lucky, you might even catch two or more at the same location.

Advantages of this Set:

These traps, like most effective muskrat traps, do not require bait. This is a good thing because Muskrats are quite resistant to bait owing to their omnivorous diet and usual abundance of food around their dens.
Easy to set up once the runway is located. All you need to do is purchase a Conibear or Cage trap from your local hunting store or online.
Disadvantages of this Set:

This set does require a bit of legwork in order to locate the runway. While muskrat are among the easiest animals to track, it can still be a bit of a problem for newcomers. And unlike with other animals, you cannot fall back on bait for muskrat traps except in special circumstances.