Muskrat: What You Should Know

The muskrat is a rodent. It’s bigger than a rat and smaller than a beaver. The name muskrat is somewhat misleading because biologically it does not belong to the rats but to the voles. Originally, the muskrat only lived in North America. Around the year 1900, a Czech prince is said to have brought it back home from a hunting trip. Since then it has spread to much of Europe and Asia.

An adult muskrat weighs between one and two and a half kilograms. You can tell by her sharp incisors that she is a rodent. She has a short and thick head. It looks like it goes into the body without a neck. The tail is almost bare and flattened at the side.

Muskrats spend a lot of time in the water. That is why they only live near lakes and rivers. They are excellent swimmers and divers. Stiff hairs that grow on their toes, making them look like paddles, help them swim. The muskrat uses its strong legs and hind feet to move in the water. The muskrat can use its tail to change direction.

Muskrats feed mainly on tree bark and aquatic plants or plants that grow on the shore. These include, for example, reeds and cattails. They rarely eat fish, insects, or frogs.

As a place of retreat, muskrats build two types of burrows: On the one hand, there are tunnels that they dig underground in the water. On the other hand, there is the so-called Bisamburgen. These are dwellings that they build from plant parts. When digging the tunnels, they sometimes undermine dikes or dams, causing problems for these structures.

Muskrats usually get pregnant twice a year. A pregnancy lasts almost exactly one month and there are four to nine young. A baby weighs about twenty grams at birth. They stay in the residential castle and drink milk from their mother. They can reproduce themselves the following year and therefore spread very quickly.

In the wild, few muskrats live longer than three years. After this time, their molars are usually so worn down that they can no longer eat. The muskrats are hunted by the red fox, the eagle owl, and the otter. Humans hunt the muskrat with guns and traps. You can eat their meat. Fur is also very popular in the fur industry.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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