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#6347 - 02/06/06 10:42 AM Are your muskrats dieing off?
henry fitzgerald Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 72
Loc: Quakertown, Pa.
Back in the 60's when I trapped, even before the conibear, it was possable to catch 100 / 150 muskrats the first week of the season. This was done going to school and rideing a bike.
Seems like ever since they sprayed for gypsy moth and farmers stsrted to use chemicals to kill the weeds in their crops the muskrats are gone.
I have noticed boils or tumers on the hides or yellow spots on the liver of some muskrats. The thing that stands out is , they are not breeding or the young don't survive. Seems only large adult rats are caught with NO kits. The following season has even less rats if any. My question is, does this problem only excist here in S.E. Penna. or is this problem in other states?
The problem is not from over trapping as areas that do not allow trapping also have no muskrats.

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#6348 - 02/06/06 11:39 AM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
skipper Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/05
Posts: 676
Loc: .Manheim Pennslvania
Just a observation I still have a decent population of muskrats but they are very spotty meaning they are at the same place every year.
The one thing that I noticed( and I live where they sprayed heavely for Gypsey mothes. ) As oposed to when you and I were young and the bank was riddled with water line holes. The holes that I find now are well below the water surface I don't know if this is a learned behavor or what the reason is. I have also notied that where I find good populations there is fairly deep water nearby ( aT least 3 or more feet deep)
Again just an observation smile

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#6349 - 02/06/06 12:04 PM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
Wm Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 109
Loc: Williamsburg, Virginia
Henry:

Tom Olson wrote an article on this subject in the Trapper and Predator Caller magazine a few issues back. I have not been trapping long enough to know but I get the impression from talking with trappers, that muskrats are not as numerous as they were say 30 years ago. Tom offered numerous possibilities in his article as to what might have happened. One that I remembered is predation. I am convinced there are a lot more hawks than there were 30 years ago. Assuming muskrat populations have dropped, the comeback of avian predators COULD be a big factor. Wm Hester

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#6350 - 02/06/06 12:53 PM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
WI_Archer Offline
Member

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 82
Loc: WI
I think that WM is on the right track. The number of predatory birds is on the rise and 'rat numbers on the decline. It seems like my best rat areas are in the thickest and tallest cattails, and I feel this is true because of the overhead cover it offers. Also I too have found rat dens are near deeper water and rats in creeks are almost non-existent by me anymore.

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#6351 - 02/06/06 01:21 PM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
Ric Offline


Registered: 07/22/00
Posts: 3642
Loc: Wellington,OH=USA
While I wouldn't say they are dieing off,populations are certainly lower than years ago.Two avian culprits pop to mind in my area.Barred and Great Horned Owls.Along with ditch and other small waterway "improvement".

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#6352 - 02/06/06 02:31 PM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
archer01 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/25/05
Posts: 340
Loc: N.E. Penna.
I agree with all of the above. Also there are fewer trappers here, which made for more mink. My favorite pond for rats, the mink beat me to it. I will be mink trapping next year for sure.

I also had one Very well known, old, trapping fart, give me a theory on canableism. When food is short, and habitat is being
reduced the parents will eat the young. He backs his theory up with the fact that few small rats come into his shop. Most all of the rats that are brought in are adult.
I don't know if I go along with this theory, but I thought
I'd throw it out to you.

Also remember rats are about as low as you can go on the food chain. Just about everything preys on them.

and last, 2 of the ponds I use to trap are now landscaped and mowed around to look nice. No more rats left in this twp.

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#6353 - 02/06/06 05:07 PM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
Jeremy Allen Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 13
Loc: Pike county Ky
I have never trapped for muskrats, but with talking to local trappers catching muskrats here in eastern ky they say they aren't near as many as they use to be. One trapper told me they were extinct in his area.

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#6354 - 02/06/06 11:29 PM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
Paul Fox Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/05
Posts: 281
Loc: Deckerville mi.
Proper habitat management and predator control.If you have those two,you'll have muskrats.

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#6355 - 02/07/06 08:20 AM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
henry fitzgerald Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 72
Loc: Quakertown, Pa.
Thanks Guys: That's all good interesting input.
I really beleve it is some type of sickness from the water causing the tumers. At some places fish have it. The first to go was our giant bullfrogs then our mink then our pheasants now the muskrats. It's no wonder people drink bottled water. I am sorry to hear about the low populations in other areas. Trapping muskrats can be fun, hopefully the new trappers will get to know what a packbasket of rats feels like.

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#6356 - 02/07/06 08:41 AM Re: Are your muskrats dieing off?
Ric Offline


Registered: 07/22/00
Posts: 3642
Loc: Wellington,OH=USA
If you really think that there is an enviornmental issue by all means call the proper authorities and report your observations

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