are not rats; however, they are a member of the rodent
family. Muskrats look like small beavers, or overgrown rats.
They are about 12 inches in length. They have tails as long
as their bodies. These tails are scaly and black. Muskrats
use their tails and partly webbed feet to swim and steer in
The rest of their body is fur covered. Like many rodents,
they have two front teeth that are used for gnawing. Muskrats
can weigh between 1 to 4 pounds.
muskrats mate in the water. After about 1 month, the female
produces a litter of 5 to 6 babies in her
nest. The young are born hairless and helpless in a nest.
Within 2 weeks, the babies can dive and swim. After 1 month,
the female forces the young from the nest with her sharp teeth.
Muskrats live for about three years in the wild (if they are
not trapped or eaten by predators).
live in marshy and swampy
areas near slow-moving streams. When danger is near, muskrats
can stay under water for more than 10 minutes.
They build nests on tops of roots and mud. They paste together
roots and twigs with mud. A nest can be as wide as 6 feet.
They chew a hole inside the nest and enter it from underneath
also burrow into the steep banks of streams.
They build a tunnel system down under the water line. In winter,
these tunnels are below the freezing line of water.
are most active in the early morning and early evening hours.
Muskrats are omnivores. They feed on leaves,
stems, berries, lily pads, and other green plants. Muskrats
also will eat frogs, small fish, and crayfish.