The Muskrat
By Toby Trigger

Posted: November 8, 2014

Muskrats are one of the most misunderstood animals found in and around Montana’s waterways.

Here are a few interesting facts about these amazing creatures:

A muskrat look like a large field mouse that has become adapted to an aquatic existence. A muskrat can restrict blood flow to essential organs in order to conserve oxygen and thus, can stay underwater for up to 15 minutes.

Muskrats become sexually mature within a few months in favorable habitats. In Montana muskrats’ breeding season begins at ice breakup and muskrats are quite vicious at this time often biting other muskrats leaving huge lacerations.

Only about 11 percent live to the age of 2 years and 2 percent to the age of 3 years or more.

baby muskrat

Young are born helpless, blind and naked but grow quickly and are able to leave the lodge in 2 to 3 weeks.

A single female can  produce up to three litters in a year while most produce two litters with a short gestation period of just 30 days.

Muskrats make lodges out of grass and cattails that look similar in shape to beaver lodges but are much smaller. Typically these lodges commonly referred to as “huts” are found in marshes or along slow moving creeks and rivers.

muskrat hut photo

A muskrat lodge or “hut” as commonly found in Montana.

Muskrats are primarily vegetarians but will eat crayfish and frogs on occasion. In winter they make pushups that look like mini muskrat lodges where they swim into from under the water to feed.

Muskrats are one of a few species regularly trapped for fur and meat sales throughout the United States.





Many facts from this post were taken from the Montana Trappers Education Manual; Fourth Edition (C) 2012

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newborn muskrat photo source:

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