Common Muskrat

Ondatra zibethica

Image by Alexander Kirk from Wikimedia, CC BY 4.0

Physical: The adult muskrat is mostly aquatic but moves overland in autumn. They have a head to body length of 10 to 14 inches and a tail length of 8-11 inches, weighing 2 to 4 pounds. Muskrat have dense rich brown fur overlaid with coarse guard hairs.  Their belly is covered with a silvery colored fur. Their tails are hairless with scales that are flattened from side to side.

Habitat: Most of its  life is spent  in open waters, edges of ponds, lakes, streams, around water lilies, rushes, cattails.  They are found almost everywhere in North America, mostly mistaken for small river otter wile swimming around in local marshes.

Feeding: O. zibethica are omnivores which feed mostly on aquatic vegetation along with clams, frogs and occasionally fish.

Breeding: The muskrat has a gestation period of 22 to 30 days having 2-3 litters a year. Litters consisting of 5 to 6 naked and blind young.  There is 1 family to each house, burrows in the banks with their entrances usually underwater.  Mating is from April to August in the north, and winter months in the south.

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