Thursday, December 28, 2006

Muskrat Town

During my walk on the the ice-covered marsh several weeks ago I came across at least two dozen muskrat houses or lodges all located fairly close together. This is only what I witnessed on my short walk so there are likely many more. In past years the lodges were few possibly because the water level was much lower. In fact there was very little if any open water and mostly bog. The water must be at least a 30 cm. [1 foot] higher now allowing for all this open water and now ice.

The muskrat [Ondatra zibethicus] is a very large rodent and according to there can be as many as a dozen inhabitants in one of these lodges. If this is so then there could be over several hundred individual muskrats in this marsh area.

Several years ago I blogged that I trapped, or rather cornered, a fisher - a very large member of the weasel family - up a tree. The tree looked over open water and I did see a muskrat swiming in it. It would seem that the fisher was then stalking the muskrat.

Although an omnivor - eats both plants and animals - the muskrat is mainly a herbivor and thrives best on cattails of which there are many as you can see in the picture.

With respect to the food chain it is obvious from the many internet websites that the muskrat is prey for a large number of predators as is the snowshoe hare.

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