Tips, Tricks and Techniques on Trapping Muskrats

Photoby katechka / CC BY / CC BY

Trapping muskrats is quite possibly the best way for one to induct oneself into the arcane world of trapping. There are just so many things the muskrat has going for it. Its soft fur, its meat (if prepared properly, of course), its complete lack of trap-shyness, its amphibious lifestyle (allowing for water and land trapping depending upon your preference) and last but not least, its plentiful population.

While they aren’t considered the most difficult game to trap, they certainly afford a fun way to develop the habits and knacks that any successful trapper needs. This article aims to inform its reader on some of the more useful tips on how to nab the loveable rodent. So here are the top 4 tips on trapping muskrats:

Locating the Lair:
As with most animals, the den or living area is usually a safe bet when setting the trap. This is certainly true in the case of the Muskrat as well. The trick to locating the den, which is essentially an underwater burrow dug into the bank of the stream or lake, is the earth around its entrance.

Freshly disturbed or dug earth is a sure sign of an active muskrat den and they can be spotted with relative ease because of the muddy water around the area. Also note that muskrat can sometimes live in huts made of reeds and grass, but these are quite easy to spot because they resemble small bales of hay that stick out of the water’s surface.

Tracing the Trail:
I think it’s safe to say that, of all the creatures in the animal kingdom, the muskrat is clearly the one that is least concerned with keeping itself anonymous. They frolic about the woods and streams with reckless abandon, without a single thought for the almost ludicrously obvious trails they leave in their wake. But luckily for us, this makes them easy targets for the novice trapper.

There are several unique features in the muskrat’s trail that set it apart from other woodland or semi-aquatic creatures, and each muskrat set is basically named after these features. For more info on the subject, please visit our article on the [Best Types of Muskrat Traps].

To Bait or Not to Bait:
The general rule of thumb when it comes to bait is that it usually helps rather than hurts. However, except in very specific circumstances such as trapping them under the ice, using bait with muskrat traps is not a good idea. Muskrats are omnivorous and semi-aquatic, which means that they have more than enough choices when it comes to food. This makes them bait resistant, while at the same time not at all trap-shy.

They are, however, creatures of habit and it takes a lot to dissuade them from their established trails. So generally speaking, a trap set on a muskrat trail will work just as well with bait as without it. However, the presence of bait does increase the chances of some other animal coming along to ruin the show. So you’re better off not using the bait after all.

Choosing the Chains:
When it comes to muskrats, you could use pretty much any kind of trap. But not all of them are created equal, and the most effective traps are the Conibear trap and Foothold trap. Cage traps can also be used, but they are not the best fit for many of the muskrat’s trail features. And snares are not nearly worth the hassle for trapping muskrats. So stick to Conibear and Foothold traps unless your State isn’t fond of them.