How to build floating muskrat colony traps

Written by dave p. fisher
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How to build floating muskrat colony traps
Colony trap floats work best when set among native plant growth. (pond image by Przemyslaw Koroza from

A muskrat colony trap is made from heavy gauge mesh wire. They are manufactured in models 5 to 8 inches square and 24 or 36 inches long with a trap door on each end. The 6-inch square 24-inch long trap is the most common. The traps are usually placed in muskrat trails through shallow water in reeds or cattails. The trap is also effective when placed on a float among water plants that the muskrats are feeding on. The traps can be purchased from trapping supply stores and the float materials from a home store.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 6-by-6 inch muskrat colony trap 24 inches long
  • 2-by-8 inch pressure treated board 36 inches long
  • 5 fence staples, 1 1/2 inches long
  • Hammer
  • Rebar wire
  • Wire cutter

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  1. 1

    Place the trap on the centre of the board so there are 6 inches of board extending past each end of the trap.

  2. 2

    Drive a fence staple into the board at each of the four corners of the trap and one staple at one end of the board. Leave 1/4 inch of the staple heads protruding above the board. The corner staples should be parallel with the trap sides and 1 inch back from the openings.

  3. 3

    Push a 6-inch piece of rebar wire through a corner staple and around a bottom wire of the mesh trap and twist the wire together tightly. Repeat at all the corners twisting the wire tight enough so the trap will not move.

  4. 4

    Set the board down on the water, trap side up, among cattails or other water plants where muskrats are active. Using the rebar wire, attach one end of the wire to the staple at the end of the board and the other end to a solid object or a long stick pushed into the bottom of the water to prevent the board from floating away.

  5. 5

    Place a sliced apple inside the trap in the centre to attract the muskrats into the trap. Drape wet plant material lightly over the trap to make the trap look more natural. Cover the ends of the board with the same plant material.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a pressure treated board rather than kiln dried. The pressure treated board will not soak up water and the dark colour blends better with the water and plants.
  • Cover the ends of the board with plant material as this is where the muskrats will climb up on the float. The plant cover will make the whole set look natural to the muskrats.
  • A commercial muskrat lure can be placed inside the trap to add extra attraction to draw the muskrats to the trap.
  • A 5-foot-long green plastic garden stake used for holding up tomato plants makes a good stake for the float. They are light to carry and blend in with the natural plants.
  • This type of trap is visible to trap and fur thieves who can easily make off with the trap and animals in it. Be sure to hide the float among the plants and disguise it with natural materials.

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