Mammal of the Week: Muskrat

Muskrats are semi-aquatic mammals that can be found in wetlands, ponds, lakes and marshes. Adult muskrats range in size from 2-5 pounds and are usually 16-24 inches long. They have a rounded body covered in dense brown hair and a long, black hairless tail. Because they are semi-aquatic, they have large, webbed hind feet used for swimming and smaller front feet used for digging. Muskrats live approximately 1-3 years during which they build shelters out of mud and surrounding vegetation that have underwater entrances that lead to dry chambers just above the water’s surface. Although muskrats are omnivores, their diets consist mainly of plant roots and stems gathered from nearby vegetation. Their diet is supplemented by a few small aquatic insects, fish, and amphibians.