Muskrats are a type of rodent and they are related to mice, voles, beavers, and rats. They are the most abundant furbearer in the United States. The name muskrat comes from both its strong smelling scent and it’s rat-like appearance. Muskrats have an average lifespan of less than a year and they do not hibernate.
|Appearance||Muskrats are stout with short legs and a hairless tail. They look like small beavers with long, rat-like tails. Muskrats have fur ranging from chestnut brown to black.|
|Length||22 to 25 inches including an 8 to 12 inch tail|
|Weight||Around 2 to 3 pounds|
|Habitat||Muskrats like to live near still or slow-moving water such as ponds, marshes, streams, and rivers.|
|Food||Roots and stems from aquatic plants, legumes, grasses, grains, garden crops and fruits, along with crayfish, freshwater mussels, fish, frogs, and even the carcasses of other muskrats|
|Predators||Foxes, hawks, minks, owls, snakes, and snapping turtles|
|Location in Pennsylvania||Statewide|
|Extra facts||Muskrats build lodges of grass and reeds usually 2′ to 4′ high.|
Muskrats are capable of breeding after one year, however, due to predators and habitat loss, many individuals don’t live past one year of age.
Muskrats are known for burrowing into pond and stream banks and slowly eroding away those banks. They are herbivores and will eat grasses and flowers near the water’s edge.
Muskrats can be trapped with foothold and body-gripping style traps. Reinforcing pond and stream banks with wire mesh will sometimes alleviate the problem.
For more information about muskrats, check out the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife notes.