Mammals

Bottoms Up

DSC_3650muskrat tail

Frequently, as we get close to the muskrat, we get to see a rear view as it dives away. They can swim under water for 12-17 minutes, so once they go down they often don’t reappear anywhere near us.

DSC_3624muskrat

Thankfully, it seems to be a little less bothered by us recently and we have got to enjoy a friendly face.

DSC_4274muskrat

The muskrat seems to be enjoying the amount of weeds we have this year. The low level of the water has made it much more weedy in front of our dock.

DSC_4285muskrat

Apparently they are rather fond of cattail and yellow water lily, both of which we have around us. They are not actually members of the genus Rattus. Their name probably comes from a native word describing its colour or the association with the musky smell that it uses to mark its territory.

Muskrats live with their mates and young, but we only seem to see one lone muskrat each time. They have 2-3 litters each year with 4-8 pups, so I am surprised that we haven’t seen more of them around.

Muskrat skull

My son found this muskrat skull on our property, so I guess that might account for why we are not seeing as many as I would expect! Having watched a turkey vulture eating one a while ago, it seems necessary for them to have several litters a year.

In the bay next to us we have seen muskrats disappear into holes along the bank, so I am guessing there are some dens along there. There is also what looks like a beaver lodge in that bay, but I don’t see any signs of recent activity.  I have mixed feelings about it as I think it could be a bad thing if they moved into our bay. They can change the landscape so dramatically and I really wouldn’t want that… as much as I would love to see a beaver around!

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