Trapping Muskrats in Virginia

 There is no question the golden era of trapping has likely come and gone.  No longer is it possible for a trapper to make a living based solely on the money earned from pelts. However, there are still experienced woodsmen making good seasonal profits. Among the most lucrative species is muskrat. They offer the benefits of decent price and high population sizes depending on the habitat. It is possible to catch numerous rats in one attempt. Most tidal creeks, ponds, and lakes hold muskrats. 

Catching muskrats is most successful with a conibear 110 trap. The trap should be set in front of the rats "hole" that is found on the bank or shore under water. These holes are excavated underground tunnels made by the muskrats that may lead to either the den site or simply a series of tunnels. Holes are easiest to locate in tidal areas during low tide when the receding water exposes the tunnels. They may also be located by finding the rats "sloughs," or paths of travel that funnel to the underground hole (Figure 1). Sloughs are distinguished by the disturbance of litter on the water floor. These paths may be anywhere from one or more feet in length and commonly lead to a muskrat hole.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Although there are numerous methods of trapping rats, one of the most effective is a set in front of the hole against the bank (Figure 2). When the muskrats goes through the conibear, it trips the trigger which sets the trap off. 

Figure 2

Figure 2

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