Muskrat

Muskrats are stocky, broad rodents that make burrows in the banks of waterways. Special adaptations allow them to live a semi-aquatic lifestyle. They have insulating and buoyant brown fur, partially webbed hind feet and a scaly tail. Their teeth protrude in front of its lips to keep water out while they gnaw on plants. Muskrats are known for the musky-like odor that gave the animal its name.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Ondatra zibethicus
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
3-4 Years
SIZE
10-14 ” | 2-4 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Furbearer
GAME TYPE
Furbearer
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The Muskrat is an aquatic rodent who is commonly found throughout Nevada’s waterways. They habituate wetland areas with ample vegetation where they can construct their conical-shaped houses and bank dens out of plant matter.

  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh
  • Rivers and streams

Threats

  • Disease
  • Predation

Natural History

Muskrats are nocturnal mammals that do not hibernate, and need to consume fresh vegetation daily to survive. They use their specialized front teeth to chew down plants like cattails, sedges, and pond weed. They will also occasionally consume crawfish, snails, and other small fish. Outside of breeding, Muskrats exhibit aggressive behavior against others of their species. Depending on available resources, Muskrats can have up to three litters of a maximum of ten young every year. Muskrats are able to live on their own as early as a month after birth!

Fun Facts

Muskrats can hold their breath while swimming underwater for up to 20 minutes. Using their tail as a rudder, Muskrats can swim 3 miles per hour. Muskrats have many predators, including mink, otters, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raptors, and even largemouth bass!