• <p>Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)</p>
  • <p>Muskrats are semiaquatic, spending time in the water and on land</p>
  • <p>Muskrats often live in burrows with underwater entrances like otters, but may also build above water dens for shelter</p>

The muskrat is a semi-aquatic mammal found in wetland areas. It is native to North America, but was introduced in South America and Eurasia by humans in the early 1900s as a valuable fur resource. It is now considered an invasive species outside of North America.

The muskrat, 1-4 pounds and 8-10 inches in length without its tail, is appropriately named based off its similarity in appearance to a rat. It also produces a strong musk during mating season it uses to mark its territories. Like the otter, it has thick, protective fur to keep it warm in cold water, short legs with webbed feet, and a long, flat, and hairless tail used to propel it while swimming. This tail makes muskrat tracks easily identifiable, as when it walk on land, its tail drag along the ground, leaving a long line between its footprints.

The muskrat plays an important role in certain ecological systems, as its eating and denning habits create the ideal flat nesting areas for certain birds.

With a high reproductive rate, it also provides an important food resource for many other species, including various larger mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles.

Though, as primarily a herbivore, the muskrat is capable of decimating vegetation in an area when living with dense enough population numbers. The muskrat may also be a vector of disease and source of property damage for landowners.