Muskrat Facts

Muskrat Facts
Muskrat is a mammal that is closely related to voles and lemmings. This animal originates from North America. People brought muskrats to Europe, Asia and South America at the beginning of the 20th century. Muskrats inhabit wetlands, marshes and areas near the ponds, lakes and rivers. In certain parts of the world, muskrats are considered to be pests because they damage river dams and feed on the crops. People hunted muskrats in the past because of their fur and meat. Despite these factors, number of muskrats in the wild is large and stable and they are not listed as endangered species.
Interesting Muskrat Facts:
Muskrats can reach 18 to 25 inches in length, including the tail (which has 8 to 11 inches in length). Muskrats usually have 2 to 3 pounds of weight.
Muskrats are covered with thick brown fur that consists of two layers. Outer layer is waterproof.
Front feet of muskrats are equipped with long and sharp claws. Hind feet are webbed.
Muskrats have broad head with small ears that can be closed when animal dives.
Muskrats are named "musk-rats" because they look like rats that produce specific smelly substance in the anal gland. This substance is used to mark borders of the territory.
Muskrats are adapted to the semi-aquatic life, which means that they can live both on the ground and in the water.
Muskrats can swim at the speed of 3 miles per hour, using their paddle like feet and vertically flattened hairless tail. They can dive 15 to 20 minutes without returning to the surface to breathe.
Muskrats are active mostly during the night and at dusk and dawn (nocturnal animals).
Muskrat's diet is based on aquatic plants such as water lilies, sedges, arrowheads... They use long incisors to grab underwater vegetation. Besides plants, muskrats occasionally eat snails, frogs, insects and fish.
Main predators of muskrats are minks, foxes, lynx, coyotes, owls, hawks, eagles…
Muskrats live in family groups composed of breeding couple and their offspring. Their home usually occupies a territory of around 200 yards.
Muskrats use their sharp claws to dig burrows on the riverbanks. They build lodges surrounded by water using different plant materials. Muskrats also form floating platforms that are used for feeding.
Mating season of muskrats takes place from March to July. They are polygamous animals, which mean that they have more than one mating partner.
Female produces several litters per year. Pregnancy lasts 28 to 30 days and ends with 6 to 7 babies. They are naked, blind and helpless at birth. Babies depend on the mother in the first month of their life. After 6 weeks, young muskrats are ready to leave the den.
Muskrats can survive several years in the wild, but they rarely live longer than one year.

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