Muskrat

October 18, 2021

A muskrat is a medium-sized rodent native to North America. It is an introduced species in Europe, Asia & South America, where it is generally considered an invasive species. 

Physical Appearances

  • A muskrat is covered in short, thick fur across its body.
  • Their tails are covered in scales, which they use to propel themselves in the water.
  • The average adult muskrat is between 1-4 lbs and is between 16-28 inches in length. 

Characteristics 

  • It is considered a semi aquatic animal as it spends most of its time in the water. 
  • The muskrat can swim underwater for over 15 minutes at a time. Their body is less sensitive to the build-up of carbon dioxide compared to other mammals. Their hind feet are semi-webbed, though their tail is their primary propulsion.
  • The muskrat is an omnivore. Though their diet is 95% plant-based, they also consume freshwater animals like mussels, frogs, crayfish, fish, and small turtles.

Nesting

  • Muskrats build nests to protect themselves and their young from the cold and potential predators. These nests are often in the vegetative banks of ponds, canals, streams or rivers. The entrance is usually 6 inches wide and located underwater.
  • The muskrat is an important animal in Native American Culture. Some predict the amount of winter snowfall by observing the size and timing of muskrat den construction.
  • Their habitat resembles that of the beaver. However, they are more closely related to voles and lemmings.
  • They generally live in families consisting of a male, a female, and their offspring.

2 Comments

  1. Elissa Sweeney

    Thanks love nature and learning.

    Reply
  2. Saralynne Crittenden

    You think you know something about animals and then you read this. The more we know — the more we should cherish these animals. If they don’t survive— we don’t survive. Period.

    Reply

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