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Muskrat, Muskrat

March 2, 2013

Muskrats, are, as the name implies, a rodent: a large rodent adapted to living in the water. I saw a muskrat floating at the top of a small pond by the rocks yesterday that dove when it heard the “click” of my camera. I waited for awhile to see if it would emerge again, but as usual, it did not reappear when I was there. Muskrats can stay submerged for a very long time. It might also have sought security in a nearby burrow in the rocks.

cleaning up

cleaning up

Muskrats are quite common in the Kootenays and are active year round. Some of these muskrat photos were taken last April. The Muskrat was quite happy to continue grooming as I watched and took photos from the shore. It is very important for an aquatic animal like a muskrat to keep its fur clean and un-matted. Wet matted fur does not keep the cold water from the skin.

checking things out

checking things out

Muskrats pile up vegetation on some sort of platform and then “hollow out” that mound to make a lodge. Other muskrats burrow into a bank and can, over generations, construct an elaborate system of burrows. Muskrat excavation can threaten the integrity of dikes constructed by people.

face on

face on

I have often seen muskrats carrying vegetation – feeding young? Or doing lodge/burrow maintenance? I also have found a small dead muskrat young with two puncture wounds to the head. Did an otter find the burrow and eat the young? Was it scared off while eating the muskrat young I found? Muskrats here can have two broods of young, and the female can be nursing one brood while pregnant with a second brood.

yesterday's photo

the muskrat I saw yesterday

bringing the home the salad

bringing home the salad

grooming

grooming

I always look out for muskrats when I am near water. They leave a distinctive wake as they propel themselves through the water with their long tail and strong hind legs. All in all, very cool little animals.

all photos and writing on this blog copyright Joanne Siderius 2013

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