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Problem Animal

Grouping Rodent / Furbearer / Omnivore 
Nicknames Marsh Rabbit, Pond Rat, Rat, !@#$%^&*
Best Known For  A vertically flattened tail utilized as a rudder. Sitting partially erect on its hind feet when eating plant materials. Den holes in the banks of ponds and streams. Creates smooth trails down banks commonly called slides. Slides are very common in the snow.
Life Span 5 to 6 years is possible, though less than 12 months is average.
Mating Season Spring through summer
Reproductive Details After a 30 day gestation period 5 to 8 young are born in a litter. 2 to 5 litters per year. Females born in a first litter may be capable of raising their own litter by the end of summer or early fall. Why so many? They are a food source for many predators.
Dispersal Young disperse between litters; Additional dispersal occurs in the spring.
Habitat Dependent upon water. Lakes, rivers, creeks, ponds, and marshes, seeps, and poor drainage areas.
Activity Cycle Diurnal and nocturnal. Activity peaks near dusk and dawn.
Food Roots and stems of aquatic plants (i.e. cattail, bullrushes, water lilies). When growing near water, legumes, grasses, grains, garden crops and fruits are readily eaten. Animal protein makes up a small portion of the muskrat diet including crayfish, freshwater mussels, fish and frogs.
Den Sites Dens can be found in creek and pond banks. Dens are underground often with the entrance below the water line. Muskrats also build huts similar to beaver huts but smaller (typically in marsh areas where dirt banks are not available for digging into).
Damage Signs Hole-digging can undermine earthen dams, dikes, irrigation canals and farm ponds. Bank erosion can sometimes be an issue, as well as feeding damage on ornamental plants in a suburban setting. Ornamental pond and pool liners can be damage severely from burrowing muskrats.
Treatment Trapping and removal. Secure banks above and below the waterline with chain link fence. Fence above the water line can be covered with topsoil to hide and hold the fence in place.
Distinguishing Features Brown colorations even sometimes black in color. Total length including an almost hairless, flat, rudder-like tail averages 20-25 inches. Tail drag marks often visible in mud. Small front feet with larger, partially webbed hind feet. Muskrats will eat upright, squatting on tail and using front feet to hold food.
Disease Giardia: a severe water-born intestinal tract disorder also known as beaver fever. Giardia can decimate muskrat populations, often occurring in the summer during drought and low water conditions. Tularemia: a potentially fatal bacterial disease that in humans begins with symptoms of fever and chills, head and muscle aches, cough, progressive weakness and pneumonia.

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