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So apparently some vile critter has started chewing on my oak trees beside my creek. I've never seen beaver, but muskrat are somewhat common. But I wasn't aware muskrat chewed trees this big? My question is, am I dealing with a beaver or a muskrat? Is there any chance of a live trap working? I have no real experience trapping so a live trap is all I have at my disposal. And if it would work, what's my best bait and trap placement. I can take pictures of my yard, the creek and my pond if that's necessary as well.

Plant Wood Terrestrial plant Trunk Twig

Plant Wood Grass Twig Trunk

Water Plant Wood Grass Trunk
 

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"Do Muskrats Eat or Cut Down Trees? No, muskrats do cause damage to trees by chewing the bark from the stems but they are unlikely to cut down an entire tree. They are much smaller than beavers and eat a wider range of foods. "

I just learned something. I didn't know m-rats chewed trees. I would suggest getting in touch with the ODNR to see what you can do legally as there is a season on both critters. I think m-rats are in season now.

BTW, That's an interesting piece of wood in the 1st pic on the right side. Looks like a turtle sticking its head out of its shell to me.
 

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What animal sign do you have around the pond or creek? Is there trails coming out of the water onto the banks? If its muskrats, they won't be that wide maybe 6", give or take.

If you have beavers around is there a dam anywhere they have built to contain the water? I have seen them take out several trees in a specific area, but no where near the diameter of what is in your pictures?

Muskrats either dig into the banks of your pond or creeks or build "houses" with cattails. They can vary in size but many that I have seen and trapped when I was younger were maybe 3-4' in diameter and a few feet above the water line. There were some that were at least double this size. I have not seen them do much damage to trees of that size.
 

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If there was a beaver spending any sorta time there you'd know it . Not sure what to make of the pics you showed tho.

Look for obvious beaver sign like cut or notched trees and peeled sticks, castor mounds , dam building .

I really don't think a beaver is responsible for the chewing you showed .
 

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Since we're looking at a creek and with the flooding that we've been dealing with here lately, I'd day you are looking at a displaced beaver doing some, what I call, anxiety cuttings. When they get flooded out, these are the type cuttings I see when trying to find where beaver have moved to. They generally dont go into tree felling mode and are content to get a bit of cambium and do a bit of tooth maintenance. If you look at the tooth marks, they'll be about a half inch wide.

Muskrats generally just snip small branches that are pencil sized or smaller. You really dont see them making multiple passes at a tree.


As for trapping a beaver with a cage trap, it can be done. I would recommend the 14-15" wide cages if you're going to use a hardware store trap. As for bait and lure... Id recommend ordering a lure called Backbreaker from any trapping supply store. Set the trap near the waters edge near where they are chewing on trees and make a mud pie in the back of the trap and put a marble sized glob of the lure on the mud.
 
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