Pest Away Tips

6 Natural Ways to Repel Muskrats and Protect Your Property

Muskrats and how to effectively deal with them

Muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents that can be found in North America. They are known for their love of water and are often found near streams, ponds, and lakes.

They have distinctive features that make them recognizable, including their stocky bodies, crescent-shaped tails, and shaggy brown fur. In this article, well explore the behavior of muskrats, their positive and negative effects, and how to repel them.

Appearance and behavior

Muskrats are adept swimmers and can even hold their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes. They have webbed feet that help them navigate through the water, and their tails act as rudders to help them turn and change direction.

They are typically around 16 to 25 inches long and can weigh up to 4 pounds. Although they are not aggressive, muskrats can become quite territorial.

They build their homes, or lodges, near the waters edge and are known for their burrowing behavior. They create tunnels in the banks and can cause damage to the structure of the land around ponds and lakes.

These burrows can also decrease the quality of the shoreline or cause erosion.

Positive and negative effects

Muskrats play an important role in their aquatic environment. They help control plant overgrowth by feeding on aquatic vegetation, which keeps the water ecosystem in balance.

They also provide a valuable source of food for predators such as coyotes, foxes, and birds of prey. However, muskrats can also have negative effects on the environment.

They can cause damage to agricultural crops and gardens by feeding on plant roots and stems. They can also bring down shorelines and cause erosion, thereby decreasing the amount of land available for human use.

They are also known to carry a parasite that can infect humans with various diseases.

Nocturnal habits

Muskrats are generally nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are more active at night. They can be difficult to spot during the day unless they are swimming in the water.

At night, they become more active and are more likely to be spotted by humans. There are certain times of the year when muskrats are more active, such as during the breeding season in spring.

Scents that repel muskrats

There are several scents that can be used to repel muskrats. Some of these include:

Pet smells

Muskrats are naturally afraid of predators, so any type of scent that resembles a predator can be effective in repelling them. Some pet scents, such as cat litter, have a strong odor that can repel muskrats.

Another way to use pet smells to repel muskrats is to place ammonia-soaked rags around the area that you want to protect. The powerful smell of ammonia can deter muskrats from coming near the protected area.

Garlic and cayenne

Garlic and cayenne have strong smells and tastes that can repel muskrats. You can sprinkle garlic powder or cayenne pepper around the area that you want to protect.

Alternatively, you can mix garlic and cayenne with water to create a spray. The spray can be applied directly to plants and vegetation to make them less appealing to muskrats.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint has a pungent aroma that can repel muskrats. You can use peppermint oil to create a spray that can be applied around the area you want to protect.

Simply mix a few drops of peppermint oil with water in a spray bottle and apply it liberally.

Used coffee grounds and clothing fabric

Muskrats are afraid of human scents, so you can use coffee grounds or used clothing fabric to deter them. Simply fill a small mesh bag with used coffee grounds or clothing fabric and place it around the area that you want to protect.

Make sure to replace the bag every few days.

Predator urine

Muskrats are naturally afraid of predators, so using predator urine can be an effective way to repel them. You can purchase coyote urine from a hunting supply store and apply it around the area that you want to protect.

The smell of the urine will make muskrats think that a predator is nearby and will cause them to avoid the area.


As mentioned earlier, ammonia has a strong smell that can repel muskrats. You can use it in the same way as predator urine, applying it around the area that you want to protect.

The powerful smell of ammonia will make muskrats think that a predator is in the area and make them avoid it.


Muskrats can be both beneficial and harmful to the environment. They help keep the water ecosystem in balance by feeding on aquatic vegetation, but they can also cause damage to agricultural crops and gardens.

Understanding their behavior and how to repel them can help create a safe environment that allows them to coexist with humans. Using scents such as litters or urine of predator, peppermint oil, garlic and cayenne, used coffee grounds or clothing fabric, and ammonia as a way to repel muskrats can be effective in preventing them from causing damage to the environment.

Other ways to deter muskrats naturally

Aside from using scents to repel muskrats, there are other natural ways to deter them from causing damage to property, agricultural crops, and gardens. Some of these methods involve modifying the environment to reduce the attractiveness of the area to muskrats.

Grading banks

One method of muskrat control is to grade the banks around ponds or lakes. Grading the banks can create a steep slope that makes it difficult for muskrats to burrow into the waterline.

Muskrats prefer banks with a gentle slope that provides easy access to both land and water. By creating a steep slope, muskrats are less likely to dig burrows in the waterline and destroy the structure of the land.

Eliminating food and shelter sources

Muskrats require vegetation, cover, and food to survive. Removing these sources can help make an area less attractive to muskrats.

As such, you can remove aquatic vegetation that grows near the shore and in the water. This can include duckweed, pondweed, or milfoil.

Removing their source of food gives them less reason to burrow into the banks and cause damage. Its crucial to remove vegetation before the growing season when it becomes more difficult to keep it under control.

Using wire mesh

Wire mesh placed on the bottom of the pond or lake can be an effective method of muskrat control. Galvanized wire is used and rolled out onto the pond or lake floor, covering the areas where vegetation grows.

This method has shown to be very effective, protecting the aquatic ecosystem while repelling muskrats. Wire mesh can also be used to cover areas where burrows have previously been dug, thereby discouraging muskrats from returning.

Muskrat behavior and activity

Muskrats are nocturnal creatures that become active at night. They are generally less active during the day, making them difficult to observe.

During the hours of darkness, they are more likely to leave their lodges and venture out into the water to feed. They can be seen swimming or diving beneath the surface, searching for aquatic vegetation to feed on.

Burrowing is a vital part of muskrat behavior. They use their powerful teeth to dig burrows into the banks around ponds and lakes.

The burrows create safe and secure homes for the muskrats and their young. Burrows are also used as a means of protection from predators.

Muskrats create two types of burrows: the first is for nesting and the other for food storage. Floating barges are another aspect of muskrat behavior that can allow them to establish homes and safety.

Muskrats use floating vegetation barges as a platform to build their lodges. These barges are created by muskrats digging out the roots of aquatic vegetation and binding the roots together.

The resulting barge floats on top of the water. Floating barges are preferred by muskrats as they are safe from predators, provide easy access to the surrounding areas, and give easy access to food.

In conclusion, muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents that can have both beneficial and harmful effects on the environment. Understanding their behavior and activity patterns is important in creating a safe and balanced habitat where humans and muskrats can coexist.

Natural control methods such as grading banks, eliminating food and shelter sources, and using wire mesh have shown to be effective in managing muskrat populations.

Conclusion and resources

In conclusion, muskrats are fascinating creatures that play an important role in the aquatic environment. However, their burrowing behavior and feeding habits can cause damage to property, gardens, and agricultural crops.

Understanding their behavior and using natural deterrents can help create a safe and balanced habitat where humans and muskrats can coexist. Persistence is key when it comes to using natural deterrents.

It may take several attempts and multiple methods before you find what works best in repelling muskrats. Although using scents may provide a temporary relief, physical deterrents such as wire mesh and grading banks offer a long-term solution to keep muskrats away.

If muskrats continue to cause damage despite using natural methods, it may be time to call a professional. Trapping or relocating muskrats should be done humanely and in line with local laws and regulations.

Lastly, it is essential to consult reputable sources for further information on muskrat behavior and natural deterrents. Research papers, journal articles, and online resources can offer valuable insights into muskrat control.

A few notable resources include the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). In particular, the NWF offers information on muskrats, including habitat, behavior, and how to coexist with them in a safe and balanced manner.

The USDA has a comprehensive guide on muskrat repellents and control methods that can be used in various settings, such as gardens, ponds, and lakes. Overall, by understanding muskrat behavior and using natural control methods, we can create a safer and healthier environment for both muskrats and humans.

In conclusion, understanding muskrat behavior and how to repel them naturally is essential in creating a balanced and safe environment both for the muskrats and humans. Muskrats play an important role in the aquatic ecosystem, but their burrowing and feeding behavior can cause damage to property and crops.

By employing methods such as grading banks, wire mesh, and eliminating food and shelter sources, we can naturally deter muskrats. Persistence is key, and seeking information from reputable sources such as the USDA and the NWF can provide valuable insights.

By following the methods suggested in this article, we can find an effective and humane solution to coexist with these fascinating creatures.

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