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Muskrats Constructing Lodges

10-8-14 muskrat lodge3 012Muskrats, in addition to digging bank dens, also build lodges in which to live. Muskrat lodges resemble beaver lodges, but are usually much smaller (up to eight feet high, and four feet wide) and are made of vegetation, not sticks, like beaver lodges. Most lodge construction occurs in May and early June, and again in October. Typically they are built in no more than two feet of water. A single dry chamber (entrance below, chamber above the water line) houses a pair of muskrats, and often several litters of young (the mother adds a chamber for each litter). Even though the walls of a muskrat lodge are up to a foot thick, mink, foxes and coyotes often dig into them in the winter. Two or three smaller versions of a lodge, called “pushups,” serve as protected feeding platforms.

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6 responses

  1. micky

    Montazuma Wildlife Refuge at the top of Lake Cayuga in NY is loaded with these lodges. At first I had no idea what they were until I saw some muskrats sitting on top of them last June.

    October 8, 2014 at 12:37 pm

  2. Betsy janeway

    Dear Mary,
    This cranky English major thinks you have a misplaced modifier in today’s article on muskrats. You wrote: “Muskrat lodges resemble beaver lodges, but are usually much smaller (up to eight feet high, and four feet wide)” and I am positive that no little muskrat ever built a lodge 8 feet tall., 4 feet wide…you mean beavers, right?
    Sincerely,
    Betsy Janeway

    October 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    • Hi Betsy,
      Those measurements actually did refer to muskrats, but I should have said that they were the extreme, not the average. Beaver lodges get way bigger than that!

      October 8, 2014 at 6:46 pm

  3. marge morrison

    Is a muskrat the same thing as a groundhog?Marge From: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland To: maggielynn63@yahoo.com Sent: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 6:32 AM Subject: [New post] Muskrats Constructing Lodges #yiv9757920304 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9757920304 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9757920304 a.yiv9757920304primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9757920304 a.yiv9757920304primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9757920304 a.yiv9757920304primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9757920304 a.yiv9757920304primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9757920304 WordPress.com | Mary Holland posted: “Muskrats, in addition to digging bank dens, also build lodges in which to live. Muskrat lodges resemble beaver lodges, but are usually much smaller (up to eight feet high, and four feet wide) and are made of vegetation, not sticks, like beaver lodges. M” | |

    October 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    • Hi Marge,
      No, muskrats and groundhogs/woodchucks are different species, but they are cousins — both are rodents. Muskrats semi-aquatic, and woodchucks are terrestrial, among other differences!

      October 8, 2014 at 6:52 pm

  4. Libby

    Aren’t muskrat’s sometimes seen as pesky when building into the bank’s edge, leaving the bank weakened? Is this really a concern? And they must be prolific to withstand easy invasion by predators…..what are your thoughts?

    October 9, 2014 at 12:57 am

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