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Muskrats Busy Feeding

7-24-15  muskrats IMG_4435For the most part, muskrats are herbivores. They consume with relish the leaves, stems and rhizomes of emergent aquatic plants such as cattails, bulrushes, sedges, horsetails, water lilies and arrowheads. Fish, frogs and invertebrates, including crayfish and clams, are also eaten to a lesser extent. Muskrats are voracious eaters (captive muskrats eat 25 – 30% of their weight daily). When their numbers are very high, muskrats can cause what is referred to as an “eat-out,” where they mow down everything in sight.

Like beavers, muskrats can close their upper lips behind their incisors in order to cut plants underwater without taking in water and choking. (photo: two young muskrats feeding on aquatic vegetation)

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7 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    Hmm. Are the incisors the bottom teeth? I can’t picture how they close the upper lip behind the upper teeth. Maybe the lips are loose and kind of bend behind the teeth?

    July 24, 2015 at 8:38 pm

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    Thanks Mary!

    July 25, 2015 at 7:45 am

  3. Hi Mary,
    we are noticing very large areas (several 1oo sq ft) of Charlotte’s Town Farm Bay wetland sedges (a 50 acres complex) are nipped by some critter and wonder if it is muskrats or a moose. Water depth in the sedge areas is about 2 ft, and the sedges are nipped about 6-12 inches above the water level. What do you think?

    August 2, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    • Can you tell me if the ends of the sedges are cleanly nipped at a 45 degree angle (muskrat), or if they look as though they were torn off (moose)? Muskrats would have a hard time reaching that high unless they were pulling them down.

      August 3, 2015 at 8:21 am

  4. Nancy Condon

    Hi Mary,
    I was trying to find a recent post of yours on the fascinating natural history of the white water lily, but couldn’t find it in your list. I did, and will again, lead some paddling trips and want to share that info with other folks as we paddle along.

    August 22, 2018 at 1:14 pm

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