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The Muskrat

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The Muskrat

Post by Guest on Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:35 pm

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Muskrat
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Adult

Young Muskrat

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General Information;

Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 40–70 cm
Weight: 0.6–2 kg
Conservation status:

Scientific Classification:
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Not applicable
Muskrat Range


The muskrat, the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semiaquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats. It has important effects on the ecology of wetlands and is a resource of food and fur for humans. It is an introduced species in some of its present range.

The muskrat is the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae, which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings. Muskrats are referred to as "rats" in a general sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle and an omnivorous diet. They are not, however, so-called "true rats", that is, members of the genus Rattus.
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Physical Features;
An adult muskrat is about 40–70 cm (16–28 in) long, almost half of that tail, and weighs from 0.6–2 kg (1.3–4.4 lb). Muskrats are much smaller than beavers, with whom they often share their habitat. Muskrats are covered with short, thick fur which is medium to dark brown or black in color, with the belly a bit lighter; as the age increases, it turns a partly gray in color. The fur has two layers, which helps protect them from the cold water. They have long tails covered with scales rather than hair and, to aid them in swimming, are slightly flattened vertically, which is a shape that is unique to them. When they walk on land, their tails drag on the ground, which makes their tracks easy to recognize.
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Mental Features;
Muskrats are most active at night or near dawn and dusk. They normally live in groups consisting of a male and female pair and their young. During the spring, they often fight with other muskrats over territory and potential mates. Many are injured or killed in these fights. Muskrat families build nests to protect themselves and their young from cold and predators. In streams, ponds or lakes, muskrats burrow into the bank with an underwater entrance. Muskrats also build feeding platforms in wetlands. They help maintain open areas in marshes, which helps to provide habitat for aquatic birds.
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Diet;
They feed on cattails and other aquatic vegetation. They do not store food for the winter, but sometimes eat the insides of their lodges. While they may appear to steal food beavers have stored, more seemingly cooperative partnerships with beavers exist, as featured in the BBC David Attenborough wildlife documentary The Life of Mammals. Plant materials make up about 95% of their diets, but they also eat small animals, such as cattails, sedges, rushes, water lilies, pondweeds, wild rice, pickerelweed, clover, willow, acorns, maple samaras, arrowhead, sweet flag, switchgrass, mussels, crayfish, frogs, snails, and fish.
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Threats towards this animal;
The threats towards this animal excluding wolves are:

Raccoon, Red Fox, owls, hawks, American Bald Eagles, Common Snapping Turtle, Bullfrog, snakes, Largemouth Bass, cats, and dogs.
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Credits (c);

Images:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenorton/5980420846/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goingslo/4646934296/

Information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muskrat
http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/muskrat.htm
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