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Mr. Smarty Plants - Eliminating muskrats from a cottage garden in Ontario

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Sunday - August 22, 2010

From: Eugenia, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Pests
Title: Eliminating muskrats from a cottage garden in Ontario
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We have perennial gardens at our cottage and for the first time this year the muskrats have come and leveled everything..shasta daisies, coneflowers, day lilies, phlox, etc. Any suggestions as to how to keep them out of the garden?

ANSWER:

Wow!  We have heard about problems with deer and rabbits all over North America,  groundhogs and beavers in the north and armadillos in the south, but yours is the first query about muskrats.

The bad news is that you are fighting a losing battle.  Building some kind of enclosure to exclude them is out of the question at a cottage.  The good news is that they are not an official "species at risk" so you could trap and relocate the offender(s).

What we really recommend is that you rethink the idea of perennial gardens at your cottage.  Take a close look at what they don't eat (if there is anything) and plant more of that.  You may not end up with a perennial garden filled with the ornamentals you were thinking of, but you can create an attractive, low maintenance garden made up of plants that are native to the area.  Wandering through the woods with an eye for plants that could be used in a "garden" might be quite revealing.  We also recommend you visit the Evergreen.ca plant database for suggestions.Once you have an idea of what types of shrubs and herbaceous flowering plants thrive in your area (and are ignored by the muskrats) you should be able to purchase varieties of those plants at your local nursery.

I am wondering whether you are really dealing with a groundhog and not a muskrat because of the total devastation and the fact that muskrats feed primarily on aquatic vegetation, but it's a moot point when all your coneflowers are gone!  Good luck.

 

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