Monday 3 October 2022

The Muskrat Returns

    Okay, I realize that this is a pretty horrible photo, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have.  The muskrat tends to be camera shy.

    The whole reason I built my pond was to create habitat for wildlife.  Muskrats tend to get a bad wrap, but I am happy to see one out there swimming around in the pond.  

    Muskrats are similar to beavers, although smaller.  They are really large aquatic relatives of voles.  Instead of having a flat tail like a beaver they have a rat-like tail that swishes back and forth as they swim.  They don’t build dams or chew down trees (I have always lived in fear that a beaver might come to my pond and start falling all of the trees that grow around it.)  Muskrats eat cattail tubers and the roots of other aquatic plants.  

    The muskrat overwintered in my pond and then disappeared all summer and has now re-appeared to spend another winter.  They don’t store food, or hibernate, instead they just continue to gather food (mostly cattail tubers) under the ice, as they need them.  In the spring when the ice melts, there are always a lot of plants without their roots, floating on the surface of the pond.

    Muskrats do build lodges, but not my muskrat, it  burrows out a place to live in the bank of the pond, underground.  

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