- Sports and Recreation
How To Trap Muskrats
Professional and amateur animal trappers harvest muskrats for their fur, musk and meat. Trapping seasons typically occur in winter.
The muskrat is native to North American marshes and wetlands. This a semi-aquatic rodent is known for its valuable fur.
Muskrats may be dark brown, reddish or black in color. Adults reach lengths of about 24 inches, including their tail.
Conibear 110 Muskrat Traps
The most well known trap for catching muskrats is the model number 110 Conibear, which is named after its inventor, Canadian Frank Conibear. The 110 is made from round bar steel and measures 5 by 5 inches (130 by 130 mm).
This design activates when a muskrat enters the trap and touches the wire triggering mechanism. The trap is designed to close on the neck or torso of the animal, killing the animal quickly and humanely. Muskrats that enter the Conibear 110 usually die within a few minutes.
In addition to catching muskrats, trappers also use the model 110 trap for harvesting cottontail rabbits, mink, and other mammals. Larger sizes of Conibear traps are used to catch beaver, raccoons, foxes, and other animals.
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Muskrat Trapping Techniques
Muskrats are trapped using a variety of techniques. The most common trapping technique is to set a Conibear type trap at the entrance to a muskrat burrow, tunnel or other runway.
In tidal marshes and other semi-aquatic areas, muskrats burrow into banks and marsh edges to feed on roots. Locating burrows is usually easy by following small creeks and other waterways with a small boat.
When a burrow or tunnel is located, a trap is set and placed in the entrance of the pathway. The trap must be stabilized by using twigs or slats to hold it upright. Once set, the trap can be marked and anchored in place by pushing a pole thru the anchor ring and into the mud.
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Why Do People Trap Muskrats?
Fur trappers believe there are several benefits of harvesting muskrats, including the following:
- When muskrats become overly-abundant, they can create problems related to digging and tunneling.
- Muskrats are abundant and reproduce rapidly. Females usually produce two or three litters of young per season. Young muskrats grow rapidly and can live on their own in about one month.
- Muskrat trapping provides a modest source of income for people in remote areas. Furs are frozen or cured before marketing while meat is sold and consumed locally.