Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Ondatra zibethicus


Adult muskrats weigh 2.5-4 lbs and have a length of 23-26 inches with a scaly, compressed 8-11 inch tail. They have a fringe of hair on the underside of the tail. Muskrats have large hind feet with partial webbing between their toes.


Aquatic habitats; ponds, lakes, marshes, streams and brackish habitats. They prefer heavily vegetated areas. For shelter they dig dens into stream banks. Muskrats are very territorial and will defend their territory from other competitors and also from predators. Older adults are typically the most successful with obtaining and defending territory.

FeedingBehavior and Diet

Muskrat’s are primarily herbivores with 95% of their diet consisting of roots and stems of aquatic vegetation; however, they also will eat some invertebrates, mollusks, fish, and even turtles.


Muskrats breed in April and after about 30 days the females give birth to 4-8 young kits. Muskrats can reproduce three times within one year.

Months and Times of Activity

Muskrats are active yea round, most activity is during the night (nocturnal) but they can be seen active during the day.

Special Feature

Muskrats are very susceptible to diseases and parasites.
Children’s Book: The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat by Thornton Burgess


"Muskrat." - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. New York State, 2013. Web. 25 Jan. 2013.