An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Muskrats Enjoying Fresh Greens

Muskrats remain active year-round and are, for the most part, nocturnal, so daytime sightings usually occur at dawn and dusk.  In the Northeast, Muskrats generally start breeding in June; this early in the spring they are busy foraging for the young, tender, green leaves of cattail that are just beginning to appear.  The stems, leaves, tubers, flowers and fruits of arrowhead, bulrush and water lilies are also among their favorite foods. To a lesser extent Muskrats also feed on snails, crayfish, frogs, turtles and fish.

Muskrats don’t eat while they swim.   Rather, they often nip off vegetation and seek a sheltered spot where they rest on their haunches and tail while holding it with their front feet as they feed. Note the Muskrat’s long nails, used for digging burrows and dens in river and pond banks as well as for holding food.

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7 responses

  1. Alice

    That’s a great photo! I love to see them swimming.

    May 11, 2020 at 7:59 am

  2. Wonderful photo! What interesting (and creepy-looking) front feet…

    May 11, 2020 at 9:16 am

  3. janice gendreau

    Too bad they didn’t love Japanese knot weed!
    I tried some last wk. It reminds me of rhubarb.

    May 11, 2020 at 9:32 am

    • It is in the rhubarb family. Japanese knotweed is taking over stream and lakeside banks at such a frightening pace, does anyone know of any other plant which could successfully compete with it to curtail this creeping disaster? Our local animals like beaver and muskrat cannot seem to use it as they do native plants. I wonder if there is a biological remedy for this to preserve local fauna and habitat?

      May 11, 2020 at 11:19 am

      • Alice

        It’s also called ‘Donkey Rhubarb’ 🤣

        May 11, 2020 at 12:20 pm

  4. brchoir3

    Ugly little critters. Have been out all morning.Cheers to you too.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    May 11, 2020 at 9:59 am

  5. Pat Thomas

    this is beautiful- what a way to start the day. thank you so much, mary

    May 11, 2020 at 10:31 am

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