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Muskrats Feeding Young

5-29-19 muskrat final 1B0A0292Female muskrats bear one to four litters a summer, with each litter consisting of one and 14 young (average is 6-7). The first litter is born in late April or early May and for the first two weeks they subsist solely on milk, but soon thereafter the parents start supplementing their offspring’s diet with vegetation.

When the young are about a month old, weaning will occur and the young will be out foraging for themselves. Until then, the parents work diligently bringing back the roots, stems, leaves and fruits of aquatic vegetation to their den where their young devour it. (Photo: muskrat bringing cattail leaves back to den)

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10 responses

  1. Oh my gosh! What a wonderful photo!

    May 29, 2019 at 7:34 am

  2. Bill On The Hill

    Great shot Mary… I can see it’s whiskers reflected on the water.
    Appears to be in the shallows & getting closer to shore based on the pond lilies…
    Shot from the kayak?
    Bill… :~)

    May 29, 2019 at 8:22 am

    • Hi Bill,
      I was actually pulled off a road onto the shoulder, looking down at the body of water while photographing. As luck would have it, a policeman came along and told me I couldn’t park there…so much for a perfect spot for photographing them! (This is not my first encounter with the law over where I choose to use my car as a blind!)

      May 29, 2019 at 9:49 am

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    Love this, Mary!

    May 29, 2019 at 8:32 am

  4. Gail Platz

    Wonder image. I was amazed at the numbers of offspring. What happens to them all? I never see large numbers of them.

    May 29, 2019 at 9:01 am

    • They eventually disperse, but if you know of a pond where there’s a litter, you can see numerous tiny muskrats when they first emerge from their den.

      May 29, 2019 at 9:37 am

  5. Alice Pratt

    They must nurse their babies on land, or do the Moms lay on their backs, in the water? That’s a lot of babies to have in such a short time!

    May 29, 2019 at 9:27 am

    • They stay in the den for the first month or so, Alice.

      May 29, 2019 at 9:35 am

  6. Wanda Rice

    Wondering what their lodges look like. Saw some strange mud mounds on the northern section shore of Pawtuckaway Lake and wondered if they were built by muskrats.

    May 29, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    • Could have been, Wanda. Often they dig dens in pond banks, as well.

      June 2, 2019 at 7:50 am

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