Muskrat Biology

High Quality Muskrat Control Services In MN


Muskrats are large amphibious rodents of the vole family. They can grow up to 13 inches in length and weigh an average of 1 to 5 pounds. Their eyes are small, their ears are nearly covered by fur, and they possess large and partially-webbed hind legs to help them swim. Their fur is reddish to grayish brown, with a long nearly hairless tail that can grow to match their torso length. These animals will sometimes be seen carrying aquatic vegetation.

This is primarily herbivorous species of rodent. They feed on plant roots, stems and leaves, but will supplement their diet with small fish, frogs, mussels, clams, snails and crayfish. Unlike beavers, muskrats do not create food caches, instead relying on daily forays to eat. They are capable of going as far as creating muddy under-ice channels to reach plants to feed on during the winter. 

Muskrats are very social, but highly territorial, animals. Their marking behavior produces a smell that earned them their name, due to it’s musky nature. Most colonies are limited to the mating pair and only their most recent litter of young, forcing offspring out on their own at about 1 month of age. They have an extremely high reproduction rate spring through fall in Minnesota, producing 2 to 4 liters of 6-8 young each year. After weaning, their young must secure their own territory, leading to dispersals from these colonies at regular intervals. They will often be seen leaving the water during these dispersals, as well as to feed on nearby agricultural crops, orchards and vegetable gardens.

Colonies reside in shoreline burrows, or in lodges or dens constructed of vegetation and mud. Muskrat prefer to live in marshes, ponds, streams and wetlands, but can be found anywhere a body of water is bordered by wooded areas.   

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