Common Name
MUSKRAT

Scientific Name
ONDATRA ZIBETHICUS

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Photo by Larry Fitzgerald
Photo Copyright Larry Fitzgerald

The muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus, is a large rodent that spends much of its time in the water. Muskrats are native to most of the United States, almost all of Canada, and a small area of northern Mexico. In addition, the species has been introduced to areas of Europe and Asia. In Utah, muskrats are common throughout the state in marshes, ponds, and other areas with shallow, slow-moving vegetated water.

Muskrats primarily feed on aquatic plants, but mollusks, fishes, and upland vegetation are also consumed. Breeding occurs in the spring and summer, with females capable of producing several litters of one to twelve offspring each year. Muskrats are active throughout the year, and are primarily nocturnal, although daytime activity is not unusual. Muskrats are trapped for their fur throughout much of their range.

Sources:

  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Burt, W. H. and R. P. Grossenheider. 1980. A field guide to the mammals. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 289 pp.

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