Muskrats are one of the less glamorous, common mammals of the Rocky Mountains. Here are 8 muskrat facts to teach you more about these marvelous animals.
The natural world of the Rocky Mountains is full of a huge variety of animals. Some like the moose, bear, or bald eagle are world famous. On the other end of the spectrum are some less glamorous animals, such as the muskrat. Honestly, I’ve only seen a muskrat in the wild once and it took me some time to figure out what it was. Here are some facts about this animal so that you will know all about it if you see one in the wild.
What Is A Muskrat?
A muskrat is a type of mammal. It is roughly the same size as a squirrel, but it looks like a mix between a large rat and a beaver.
These animals are a type of large rodent that is related to voles, rats, mice, and hamsters.
8 Muskrat Facts
Muskrats can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains. It is a native of North America, but has been introduced in other parts of the world (Asia, Europe, and South America). They live in wetlands and marshes.
They are named after the fact that they create a stinky fluid called musk. Muskrats use the strong smelling musk to mark their territory, rubbing it around their house and on the trails they frequently use.
They are semi-aquatic animals and spend a lot of time in or around the water. Muskrats live around water in one of two places. Sometimes they will build floating lodges constructed out of cattails. The other place they live is in deep burrows dug into the bank of the marsh or pond.
These little animals can hold their breath underwater for 15 – 20 minutes! That is a long time.
A female muskrat can give birth several times during a single year! Each litter will have up to 7 – 10 babies. It only takes about 6 weeks until the babies are able to live on their own. This ability to reproduce so quickly keeps their populations stable even when they are being hunted for their furs or predated upon by carnivores.
Similar to other small mammals, such as squirrels and rodents, they have a short lifespan. On average they live 3 years. However, the majority of them will die in the first year of their life.
Their preferred food source seems to be cattails or other aquatic vegetation. They are omnivores and will eat a wide range of other food, including snails, salamanders, fish, and young birds.
Unfortunately, these animals are a commonly trapped animals. They can cause problems in dams, ponds, or lakes. They are also often trapped for their fur.
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