Now there’s something you probably have never thought about, or at least have thought very little. Me, neither. But for some reason, muskrats have recently shown up at my sister’s pond out front.
When I visited in October, we spoke of them, but this visit, I began to wonder, “How did they come to be here? Did they throw their belongings, hobo-style over their shoulders, saunter along the fields, and say, ‘Hey, this looks like a nice spot. Let’s build our village here,’?” It gave me an interesting visual, so I googled.
Wisconsin muskrats (not sure there are other kinds) are rodents, that live in and out of water. They have burrows, but my sister’s muskrats have lodges that stick up above the surface of the pond,, and that was what I was seeing. Those are the humps you see in the photo below. Yes, the pond is frozen.
Muskrats can be aggressive, but they are nocturnal, so I’m not too worried about myself or the dog or my family. We are early go-to-bedders. Muskrats are beneficial, in that they help maintain marshes, which in turn provide habitats for aquatic birds, and here, those will be the Sandhill Cranes, of which I am so fond. Plus the muskrats feed on cattail, and those things, while attractive, can be a mess.
Muskrats live for about three years in the wild, and the babies are called kits. They can have as many as three litters a year, though the number of babies in a litter was not revealed. Guess they hold their privacy.
So far, I have not actually spied a Muskrat, adult or child. That’s probably due to the nocturnal bit, but the pictures don’t show them as all that cute to me. Nevertheless, with three litters a year, if they grow and stick around, could increase the number of lodges that show up in the pond.
If the coyotes don’t take them out, and if they like the spot, (and why wouldn’t they?) we may have quite the Muskrat town here next year.
That seems to bring me back to my question of from where did they come? Their last area of residence may have gotten too crowded for the population, and they followed the waterway that cuts through the fields.
No matter. They sure hit payday here!