The most serious conflicts between humans and muskrats occur when muskrats burrow into the banks of farm ponds, reservoirs and other earthen water-retaining structures. By tunneling into the dam, muskrats may cause a leak that is difficult to plug, resulting in pond drainage.

Muskrat damage

Bank damage caused by muskrats.

They can also become a nuisance to farmers and gardeners when they feed on crops or vegetables. Urban homeowners sometimes become terrified of muskrats because they mistake these clean, water-loving, plant-eating rodents for black or Norway rats. This is a common mistake because a muskrat, with its flattened, scaly, sparsely haired taft, resembles a large vole (to which it is closely related). This fear is unwarranted because muskrats are very clean animals and do not carry most of the diseases associated with rats and mice.