Ondatra zibethicus


Muskrats grow to about 12 inches long, with an additional 10 inches of tail which is flattened on its sides. They can weigh up to 4 pounds at maturity and live up to 4 years in the wild. Their dense, brown fur has been a valuable commodity for trappers. Muskrats usually build their dens under the banks of waterways, or under heaps of vegetation in shallow water. They are omnivorous, but they mostly eat cattails, bulrushes and other aquatic vegetation. Swimming Muskrats can be identified and differentiated from Beavers by their lack of the rounded ears, and their skinny tails (C).

Muskrats are common in Fontenelle Forest along the Great Marsh, Hidden Lake, along Stream Trail and in Child's Hollow. But they are not often spotted; the best chance is in the fall, when one may sneak up on them feeding along Stream Trail (A). During low water levels, the channels to their dens under the bank of the Great Marsh may be spotted from the top of the blind.

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