What did you do this past weekend? We trapped muskrats (one a night). . .it is Operation Relocate Muskrat(s) in our cove at the lake now. I’m afraid it is pointless, but it seems to make my husband feel better. We are trapping them with nothing more than an apple cut in half, that we put in the trap overnight. The next morning, the apple is gone, core and all and in its place appears a muskrat just like magic.
We first noticed fresh water clam shells scattered on the dock steps. I subscribe to the “live & let live” philosophy~ so until we had boat trouble right before Memorial Day last year, we ignored the evidence of muskrats. Our boat stays on a lift, out of the water, so it was a shock to discover that muskrats had gotten up in the boat and chewed on the hydraulic lines. We repaired the boat once to the tune of $700 and it happened again, within a month. Here are some interesting tales about boats & muskrats.
Apparently they are walking up the steps and sitting at the water’s edge eating their fresh water clams. They prefer to eat at water level, often building platforms to do so~ we apparently built them the perfect feeding platform, when we rebuilt our dock a few years ago. Then, they were leaping over to the boat. . .which we have yet to figure out. There are lots of other boats in our cove, and lots of boats sitting in the water, not on lifts, without muskrat damage~ lucky us.
We have noticed as the water level fluctuates, and the water drops so it is not exactly even with the steps, muskrat visits seem to dwindle.
I’m not sure if this is Muskrat Susie or Muskrat Sam. . . but he/she looks kinda cute~too bad they’re so destructive.
According to Wikipedia:
Muskrats, like most rodents, are prolific breeders. Females can have 2 to 3 litters a year of 6 to 8 young each. The babies are born small and hairless and weigh only about 22 grams (0.8 oz). In southern environments young muskrats mature in 6 months, (yay us~) while in colder northern environments it takes about a year. Muskrat populations appear to go through a regular pattern of rise and dramatic decline spread over a 6 to 10 year period. (~we can only hope we’re approaching the decline spread.)
Muskrats provide an important food resource for many other animals including mink, foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynx, bears, eagles, snakes, alligators and large owls and hawks.
And this from NTA’s website:
Female muskrats born in the spring are sometimes capable of raising their own litter by late summer or early autumn. An average female muskrat will raise about 15 or 16 young in a good year. One female muskrat has been known to produce 46 young in one year. The gestation period for muskrats is 29 days. (joy…) Muskrats are thought to have one mate during rearing seasons.
The muskrat is classified as a rodent because of its four incisor teeth in the front of the mouth. The two upper and two lower incisors overlap, allowing them to self-sharpen as they are used.
So, we are relocating these critters, below the dam at the lake, which is really just passing the problem to someone else. The lake has 520 miles of shoreline, that’s room for a lot of muskrats.
Conversation with husband:
Me: You know, I bet there are 100′s in our cove.
Him: Now, there are 3 less.
I’m linking to A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.