Outdoor Pests

How To Keep Muskrats Out of Boats

Muskrat On River

Muskrats are definitely the most common pests you’ll encounter in lakes, rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water. These semi-aquatic mammals love creeping out at night to hunt for food, mate, and potential breeding grounds. Their limited advantages include opening water spaces for geese, ducks, shorebirds, and other creatures. But muskrats are also prey to foxes and eagles.

What you should know about muskrats is that they can also be detrimental to the aquatic environment. Their burrowing activity can cause destabilization and erosion of the shoreline. Plus, when their poop is submerged underwater, it can cause beaver fever, a flu-like infection among marine animals. As a result, anglers detest these creatures too!


One of the main reasons why boaters despise seeing muskrats is that they can chew off their boats and cause them to sink. And if you’re one like them to experience a muskrat encounter, fret not. Driving muskrats away is not the easiest, but you can certainly try out our tried and tested hacks below.

  • Use intense scents to deter muskrats.
  • Set up traps around your boats.
  • Look for the muskrats’ potential entry points and close them.

It would be best to act fast when dealing with muskrats because they can also move quickly. If you don’t take preventive measures immediately, expect your boat to be chewed off, including the wires that keep it stable.

Know everything you should about muskrats, the damage they can create, and the best ways to keep them away.

The Best Ways To Keep Muskrats Away From Your Boats

As responsible boaters, you can transform into boy scouts and prepare yourself when encountering a muskrat invasion. You can get rid of these semi-aquatic mammals in several ways, but you need to act fast and smart.

1. Use Scents To Deter Muskrats

Muskrats have a keen sense of smell. These creatures find anything strong or intense scent offensive and triggering. So why not use this to your advantage? Consider using scent deterrents to keep muskrats away and protect your boats. But it would be best if you were specific in applying the product, so it does not get wasted. Plus, it will only work if muskrats can smell them.

You might be wondering what scents you can use to repel muskrats and keep them away from your boats permanently, and we’re here to provide you with our best recommendations.

Pet Smells

Wood Shavings For Cat Litter Close-Up.

There’s no specific pet you can use. However, if you have an animal at home, you can use its scent to keep muskrats away. This is because these creatures will think the smell comes from their predators, so they sense it as a danger. When this happens, their number one reaction is to escape and hide.

But what pet smell is the most effective? We recommend using cat litter. Cat litter contains an intense ammonia scent, which muskrats absolutely hate. You can place cat litter in potential entry points to signal muskrats that your boat is a prohibited area.

Garlic and Cayenne

Cayenne And Garlic On A White Background

The main reason why chefs love adding garlic and cayenne is that they have intensely flavorful scents that can make your dishes more tasteful. That’s the same as using them to deter muskrats. Both cayenne and garlic have strong odors that could disrupt and trigger the muskrats’ keen sense of smell.

We recommend using garlic and cayenne plants. Cut some leaves and place them around your boats, especially where the essential wires are. But remember to replace them regularly because the scents can easily ward off.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil also has an intense aroma. As a result, even homeowners use this ingredient to get rid of a wide variety of pests, including squirrels, raccoons, rodents, spiders, roaches, bugs, and more. To make the peppermint oil’s scent less intense, mix it with water and turn it into a spray solution. Then, spray the mixture around your boat, so the muskrats easily pick up the scent.

Used Coffee Grounds

Closeup Detail Of Used Coffee Grounds In Wooden Bowl

If you love drinking coffee, don’t throw away the grounds after brewing them; aside from using them as fertilizers, you can also utilize used coffee grounds to keep muskrats away from your boat. There is no scientific explanation behind this. Since coffee grounds always have a bitter and burnt aroma, muskrats cannot recognize the scent. With this, they would often think the grounds are associated with humans or another sign of danger, forcing them to leave and escape.

2. Set Up Traps Around the Boat

Small Dog In A Wooden Boat On The Lake.

When scents are not enough to keep the muskrats at bay, it’s time to level up your method. First, try setting up traps around your boat. Three types of traps generally work effectively against muskrats: foothold, cage, and body-grip traps. Body-grip traps are best used when the muskrats’ bodies are bigger than usual. But it would help if you still were careful to ensure they don’t get killed.

It would help if you also ensured there were enough traps around the boat for all the muskrats that could invade your boat. Because muskrats are persistent creatures, catching one might cause more muskrats to go near your boats for revenge. We also recommend hiring a professional when setting up traps. These creatures can also be violent when caught and bite or scratch humans.

3. Close All Possible Entry Points

A Wakeboard Boat At A Wooden Dock In The Muskokas On A Sunny Day.

Closing entry points might be the most challenging solution, especially since muskrats can enter through any hole. The best way to inspect your boats for cracks and holes is before using them. If you need anything to be sealed or covered, use temporary caulk or metal sheets.

To check for holes, look for areas where it’s excessively wet. If it’s wet, it might be possible that there’s a gap or a hole where water can easily enter. Quickly patch this up before setting sail again.

Ensure Your Boat’s Safety From Muskrats

View Of An Overturned Boat And Muskrats Near The Reservoir.

Muskrats are quick to take action, especially when they have a tangible target. If you let them chew off your boat’s wires and components, you can expect to drown and sink in a few days. To protect your boats from these pesky creatures, use scents that can trigger them or set up traps that can potentially scare them away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Harmful To Get Bitten by Muskrats?

Because muskrats forage anywhere, their mouths are full of bacteria. So if you get bitten, you can acquire infections that can worsen if the bite is not treated immediately. Muskrats also carry rabies and leptospirosis.

Are Muskrats Scared of Humans?

Muskrats could also sense humans as dangerous, but they can also attack them when conditions permit them to become aggressive. These animals are quick to attack, especially when they feel they are in an endangered situation.

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