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What is

Muskrat


    The Muskrat or Musquash (Ondatra zibethicus) the only species in genus Ondatra is a large aquatic rodent native to North America and introduced in parts of Europe Adult body length is usually between 25-40cm long with a strong laterally compressed tail 20-25cm long The body is covered in thick brown waterproof fur; the underparts are paler They have partially webbed hind feet and small able hand-like front feet The weight is up to 1700g about four times the weight of a Brown Rat
    They live in wetlands: ponds lakes marshes and river banks and are very good swimmers using their tail for propulsion in the water They are found in Alaska Canada the United States and northern Mexico Extensive burrow systems are dug in the ground adjacent to the water with an underwater entrance In marshes lodges are constructed from cattails and mud They also build feeding platforms in wetlands Muskrats help maintain open areas in marshes which helps to provide habitat for aquatic birds
    These animals are most active at night or near dawn and dusk They feed on cattails and other aquatic vegetation freshwater mussels frogs crayfish and small turtles Their predators include mink foxes coyotes wolves lynx and large owls They are also trapped for their fur
    The male muskrat marks his territory with a strong musky secretion which gives this animal its name Females have 2 to 3 litters of 6 to 8 young Muskrat populations appear to go through a regular pattern of rise and dramatic decline spread over a 6 to 10 year period
    While much wetland habitat has been eliminated due to human activity new muskrat habitat has been created by the construction of canals or irrigation channels and the muskrat remains common and wide-spread

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