Muskrat is provodnoy mammal that is part of the subfamily of voles, rodents. It got its second name “musk rat” because of the similarity with rats. Natural habitat – North America, with acclimatization in Eurasia and Russia.
They artificially populated to other areas in order to increase livestock. This is due to the use of skins in industrial production.
Looks like muskrat: characteristics and features
Clumsiness on land, muskrats are forced to adapt to the aquatic environment. That’s where they build their homes. Their long tail is a replacement of the rudder when swimming, and on land support.
Description of appearance
In size this animal is a cross between a rat and a beaver. The adult can reach a weight of 1.8 kg with an average body length of 45-70 cm it Should be noted that half of this amount falls on the tail. He flattened laterally, covered with scales and hairs, across the bottom is a rigid hair comb. When moving he leaves a furrow in the ground. At its base are two inguinal glands. Through them emitted a musky odorthat the rat marks the territory.
Case round-thick structure, with a small head and blunt snout. The ears are slightly out from under his coat. The eyes are small, located high. The similarity of muskrats with beavers in that its incisors protrude outwards, not falling in the area around the mouth. This allows it to cut objects under water, without opening his mouth. Hind legs larger than the front. They are equipped with swimming webbed and have sharp claws.
The fur cover is double-layered: the bottom is a silky undercoat, and top with coarse cloth. Color assorted: back and limbs dark brown or black, belly is grayish blue. In summer the fur fade in the sun and getting brighter. The fur is rich, fluffy and waterproof. The animal is carefully watching him: grease and cleans.
Some more adaptations for underwater life are the stocks of hemoglobin in blood and myoglobin in muscles. This gives the muskrats able to stay long without oxygen.
The lifestyle and food of the muskrat
This rodent prefers to live along the banks of natural and artificial reservoirs. They especially appreciate the shallow water with a depth of 1.5-2 m. In this environment, there is a more intense and rich vegetation, which feed on animals.
What you choose muskrat food:
In the summer they eat the roots of the underwater flora, while in winter the prowl on the surface. Their digestive system is set up to digest greens. Sometimes small quantities of musk-rats can eat shellfish, crayfish, frogs and other small thing.
These unruly animals are active round the clock. A special liveliness manifests itself in the morning and after sunset. They construct burrows on elevated banks. The length of the tunnel can reach ten meters. The exit is hidden under water, so it is not visible. Nesting area is on land, sometimes in two levels. This technique is used by muskrats in the event of flooding.
If the area is swampy, they will have to design your shelter from material at hand: mud, sedge, reed. It turns out the height of 1-2 m with an underwater entrance. Even on cold winter days, the temperature inside the cabin does not drop below 0 degrees. In addition, musk-rats building burrows-pantry, where they store food for the winter.
Musk rat has similar beavers a way of being – monogamous. Muskrat settle numerous families, marking their territory specific smell. Such a territorial boundary can reach up to 500 meters in radius from the main housing. Throughout the spring season there are cases of fighting males for territory and females. Not a single case of cannibalism, when there is overpopulation on one the stern platform. Muskrat lone every spring and fall go on a journey, hoping to find free pond.
Muskrats are in constant risk. On the water, they face danger from the mink, which easily penetrates into the hole under water. In addition, they are food for raccoons, coyotes, foxes, wolves and other animals. Even the crows and magpies will prey on the young. In moments of danger the musk-rat try to hide, but can start desperately to defend.
Mating season is in early spring. The female bears cubs during the month. In one litter there are up to 7-8 pups. In Northern areas such prepodov maybe 1-2 a year. In southern latitudes muskrat hatching offspring 2-3 times a year. About a month a mother feeds her children with milk that grow quickly and are covered with hair. Already on the fifth day at the cubs open their eyes, and on the tenth they begin to learn to swim. After 30 to 35 days after birth they begin to feed on plant food.
During the winter the young generation remained to live together with mother. And with the onset of spring warmth, she banishes them from the burrow. Young muskrats are sent to an independent life.
Despite high fecundity, musk rats don’t live more than 3 years. In artificial conditions the lifetime is extended to 9-10 years. This is due to the presence in the wild of many threatening factors.
This animal is one of the commercial objects, giving valuable raw material. And in North America it is bred for its meat is reminiscent of rabbit. Muskrats are grown on specialized farms and in private. The resulting skins are for tailoring of fur coats, hats and different accessories. Such products are in demand because of their affordable price combined with decent quality. Fur is durable, beautiful, waterproof properties is about 4-5 years.
In folk medicine used internal fat muskrats. It is suitable for grinding. Musky allocation used in the perfume industry.
Conditions in captivity
In an artificial environment, the animals try to create the most natural environment. To facilitate the process of building a home they throw different building material. The exit hole of the cell is enclosed by fencing. If this is not possible, put a large container of water.
Diet is significantly different from the wild. Musk rats are happy they eat all that they give.
It can be:
- fresh vegetables;
- grass dandelion and wormwood;
- wheat and so on.
During intensive growth in the diet of muskrats make useful additions: cheese, milk, meat, fish.
With proper care and good maintenance of animals quickly adapt to humans. However, there is a risk of infection from various communicable diseases.