largetoothed muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus macrodon)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Not confirmed.
CHARACTERISTICS: This is a large rodent with a large, blunt head,
small eyes, short small ears almost hidden in fur and partially webbed hind
feet (broad) to accommodate its semiaquatic existence. They are aptly
named for the strong musky odor they can produce. The fore feet are
smaller and the tail is long, laterally flattened, scaly, and sparsely haired
ventrally. The fur is rich brown above, with coarse guard hairs, paler
below. The muskrat's total length is 456-553 mm, and weight is
0.6-1.8 kg. The breeding season is approximately February-October
and 2-3 litters of 5-7 young are produced each year. Muskrats build
houses of rushes, leaves.sticks and mud and they build 2 types of
structures: 1) elliptical nesting or dwelling houses and 2) circular feeding
shelters. The house usually contains adults and 2-4 young . Longevity
is from 3-4 years and there are many predators, including mink
(especially), and raccoon, bald eagles, great horned owls, ferruginous
hawks, marsh hawks, foxes, water moccasins and larger turtles.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is probably present in all or most counties
east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This species likes marshes, ponds,
lakes, low-gradient streams, bank burrows or houses.
FOODS: This species consumes herbaceous plant parts, woody plant
parts, herbaceous fruit, rooted aquatic plants, roots/tubers/rhizomes,
floating aquatic plants, crustaceans-aquatic, clams, fish fry, fish adults,
amphibian juveniles and adults and carrion. Some store food in chambers.
They are primarily herbivorous, however animal matter is occasionally
Crooked Run Valley