The muskrat can stay underwater up to 17 minutes at a time
Muskrat Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Ondatra zibethicus
Muskrat Physical Characteristics
Brown, Black
1-10 years
Top speed
3 mph
0.7kg – 1.8kg (1.5lbs – 4lbs)
Muskrat Distribition

The muskrat is a spirited rodent that divides its time in between water and land.

With its webbed feet and huge tail- like tail, the muskrat is an effectively adjusted and effective species that has a large array throughout the freshwater marshes and lakes of the North Hemisphere. Although it does not take part in enormous building tasks like the beaver, the muskrat does develop tough houses around the water that can fit a whole family. These quick dog breeders often enter into dispute with each various other over living area and sources.

5 Unbelievable Muskrat Truths!

  • The muskrat is an animal that has actually commonly given food and hair for humans going back hundreds of years. By the very early 20th century, it was just one of one of the most important resources of hair in The United States and Canada.
  • Thousands of muskrat fossils have actually been uncovered going back greater than 4 million years. These fossils disclose that muskrat forefathers undertook a rise in body dimension, head dimension, and tooth intricacy in time.
  • The muskrat is really taken into consideration to be an intrusive species in a number of non- indigenous regions. Some nations have actually also outlawed it from being imported.
  • As it ages, these rodents reveal noticeable indicators of wear such as graying hair.
  • The muskrat has a famous function in some Indigenous American production misconceptions. It is stated that they collected the mud that was utilized to develop the globe.

For even more realities, review “10 Unbelievable Muskrat Truths.”

Muskrat Scientific Name

The scientific name of the muskrat is Ondatra zibethicus. Ondatra is stemmed from the Huron and Wyandot word for the animal and involved us with the French, while zibethicus is a Latin acceptation musky- odored because of its solid aroma. The muskrat is the only presently living participant of the genus Ondatra. Much more extensively, it comes from the family of Cricetidae in the bigger order of Rodentia in addition to the voles, lemmings, hamsters, and New Globe rats and mice. As a matter of fact, some taxonomists think that the muskrat is truly simply a sort of vole. The majority of voles are land- based, however there are a number of species of water voles (among which resides in The United States and Canada) that are semi- marine in nature.

Muskrat Appearance

The animal’s physique bears greater than a passing similarity to the beaver, however regardless of a common environment and way of living, both animals are just distantly relevant within the order of Rodentia. The muskrat’s huge body actions no greater than 25 inches and around 1.5 to 4 extra pounds. The level and flaky tail includes an additional 7 to 11 inches to the body dimension. Its body is enhanced with lengthy hairs, huge teeth arising from the head, brief legs, and webbed back feet. The thick water resistant hair, which is dark brownish in shade (though lighter in the summer season), can catch air below, which supplies the muskrat with a lot of heat and buoyancy. The lips have the capacity to shut behind the front incisors so the muskrat can nibble undersea without sinking. The little ears are hardly noticeable with the hair.

Muskrat swimming in pond
Muskrat swimming in fish pondSteve Gillick/

Muskrat Habits

For a lot of the year, the muskrat is a singular animal that might just share a den with others to save temperature. Yet throughout the reproducing period, the muskrat’s social life is oriented around huge family teams containing a male and female set and all of their spawn. These teams tiff with each various other for minimal area, which often brings about injury and fatality. If the area ends up being also crowded, after that the female could really toss out several of the spawn from the nest. These animals interact with each various other or alert off burglars by producing a solid- scenting musk. It likewise has a series of squeaks and screeches.

Although mainly nighttime, muskrats are animals that are most energetic in between the mid- mid-day and sunset durations. They are instead sluggish and troublesome ashore, however they are great swimmers that can remain undersea for 12 to 17 mins each time and also swim backwards. These rodents paddle with their webbed back feet and utilize their tail as a tail.

The muskrat is likewise an excellent miner that can develop passages from stacks of plants and mud in or near superficial water. These houses, which are called press- ups, offer security versus predators and the extreme components. They typically have an undersea entry and at the very least one chamber. They do not typically save food for the winter season, however if sources begin to diminish, after that it can eat the within its very own burrow. Occasionally the muskrat will certainly consider deserted beaver dens too. Some records show that a muskrat might also shack up with a beaver and aid it recognize close-by predators.

Muskrat Environment

The muskrat is native to the warm and chillier areas of the USA and Canada. The species was later on presented to Europe and Northern Asia (mainly Russia) in the very early 20th century and spread swiftly from there. The muskrat flourishes in freshwater lakes, fish ponds, swamps, and marshes with 4 to 6 feet of water where it has a lot of area to develop its nest.

Muskrat Diet

Muskrats are really omnivorous feeders that can opportunistically eat either plants or meat, however the huge mass of their diet includes plant issue, one of the most essential of which is most likely the cattail. The meat-eating component of the diet includes little animals, consisting of frogs, crayfish, turtles, mussels, and fish. The muskrat consumes around one- 3rd of its weight in food every day.

To see a complete malfunction of a muskrat’s diet, ensure to review our extensive overview: ‘‘ What Do Muskrats Eat? ‘

Muskrat Predators and Hazards

The muskrat is an essential resource of food for an astonishing variety of predators such as coyotes, raccoons, barn owls, alligators, bobcats, cougars, foxes, bears, wolverines, eagles, cottonmouth water moccasins, minks, and river otters. In some locations, it is a crucial intermediary in the community in between the most affordable components of the food web and the peak predators on top.

Muskrat searching was much more usual in the past. It still happens today, however not always for sources. In some components of Europe, the muskrat is taken into consideration to be an intrusive species and as a result pursued and infected due to the damages it triggers to dikes and dams on which individuals depend to avoid flooding. The species can likewise trigger damages to plants and yards near its all-natural environment.

Due to their respected reproductive price, populaces often tend to endure well in the majority of locations also when the muskrat is pursued or contaminated by illness (though Pennsylvania populaces seemed on a years- lengthy decrease). And while huge swaths of its indigenous marshes have actually been ruined in the USA, the muskrat has actually adjusted well to life near the freshly produced canals, watering networks, and little drainages and streams. The decrease of some all-natural predators has actually created muskrat populaces to swell past regular, often also surpassing the community’s capability to endure them.

Muskrat Reproduction and Life Process

The muskrat has a reproducing period that lasts in the springtime and summer season in between March and August. As stated previously, the muskrat is a virginal species that develop reproducing couple with a specified residence array. Nonetheless, if area is minimal and populaces jammed, after that the muskrat might develop prominence power structures and take part in polygamous actions, suggesting that a solitary grownup will certainly have several companions throughout the reproducing period. Breeding happens while the muskrats are partly immersed in the water or straddling some particles externally of the water.

The female generates 2 or 3 trashes annually each containing 6 to 8 young generally. After a gestation duration of some 28 days, each set is birthed little, hairless, and totally reliant on the team for security and food. For the very first month of their lives, the young sets are totally based on the mom for security and milk. The dad plays nearly no function in the procedure of increasing the young. It takes anywhere in between 6 months and a year for the sets to completely create. The advancement time relies on the environment, as the much more north muskrats are the slowest to expand.

The muskrat typically lives no greater than 3 or 4 years in the wild however as much as ten years in bondage. A number of them are anticipated to pass away from predators eventually in their lives, so they offset this high price of attrition with their high reproduction prices. This can likewise cause overpopulation and dispute in some locations.

Muskrat Population

Although specific population numbers are not recognized, the muskrat has actually made it through and flourished nearly all over throughout its indigenous and presented array. According to the IUCN Red Checklist, which tracks species conservation status, the muskrat is a species of least concern, suggesting no unique initiatives are required to reinforce their numbers. Some muskrat populaces show up to go through a boom/bust cycle based upon the schedule of food in the location. As even more muskrats are birthed, the quantity of readily available plants drops, which restricts the amount of muskrats can endure. As population numbers decrease, plants degrees go back to regular. This way, the numbers often tend to level in time.


  1. Animal Diversity Web, Available here:
  2. Adirondack Ecological Center, Available here:
  3. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Available here:
  4. Scientific American, Available here:
  5. The Washington Post, Available here:

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