Physical Differences Between Muskrats and Nutria

As semi-aquatic rodents, muskrats and nutria share a lot of the same features. That being said, each pest has a unique appearance, and being able to tell one from the other is key to controlling infestations.

Muskrats are smaller than nutria at about 16 to 25 inches in length. These small, four-pound rodents are also distinct from nutria thanks to their:

  • Long, nearly hairless tails, which are flattened vertically
  • Small forepaws and webbed hind feet
  • Dense, grayish-brown fur protected by coarse guard hairs

Nutria are most often mistaken for beavers rather than muskrats due to their larger size. The rodents reach about two feet long and can weigh up to 20 pounds. Nutria also have:

  • Rounded, hairy tails that are pointed near the end
  • Hind legs noticeably longer than their front legs
  • Large, visible incisors that are yellow to orange in color

Muskrat vs. Nutria Signs

There are also some differences between muskrat and nutria tracks. Muskrats’ front prints only show four toes, while there are five visible in nutria tracks.

The large rodents also vary in terms of droppings. While both leave feces that are dark green, brown, or black in color, nutria droppings are marked with distinct grooves and are about two inches in length. Meanwhile, muskrat poop is only about half an inch long.

Muskrat and Nutria Damage

Most issues caused by nutria and muskrats comes from their digging. Burrows can affect water levels, which causes erosion and washouts. The resulting flooding may damage homes and weaken foundations. Additionally, both pests carry tularemia, which can be hazardous to human and pet health.


Though traps are available, the experts at Trutech can identify the differences between muskrats and nutria and take the most effective action for control.