Sunday, 12 June 2016

Guess who had six babies!

Adult feeding
Well, I hope my faithful readers appreciate this. I have a mosquito bite on my right hand and my right foot. It WAS worth it! In our frog pond, I spotted 6, SIX muskrat kitts! They are adorable!

They are born blind and naked, but their eyes are open, and they have fur and can swim by two weeks of age. They are weaned in four weeks. They become adult size after 3.5 months. Although the adult male remains as an occupant of the den in which the young are born and raised, it does not participate in their care.

The B.C. government paper says that mortality rates, according to North American studies, fall in the range of 30 -  65%, as they are prey for minks, foxes, coyotes, hawks and owls.
I've seen all of these critters in our forest!

They are basically a large rodent, a field mouse that has adapted to living in a pond.
Hinterland's Who's Who says that they can have another litter or two this summer, and they are promiscuous. They used to be hunted frequently for their fur, but humans have not wiped them out as their population is as high as it was a thousand years ago. I've seen them as roadkill, as they seek out vegetation, or new homes.

They use their glands to mark their territory, primarily in mating season, when they mark around their lodges. They have a poor sense of hearing, sight and smell. I can stand there on the dock and watch them. If I move, they duck for cover.


You can see the lodge they built on the far side of the pond.

We had quite the drought in May, and the pond is very shallow.   It's too shallow for winter, as it freezes, and I imagine they will move on. If you have the patience to watch to the end, you can hear the grey tree frogs calling and see the turtle raft I put into the pond.
muskrats from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

The wood frog tadpoles are now breathing air and are losing their tails. Muskrats are primarily herbivores, but will eat snails, and other water critters should they need to. There is a ton of frogbit growing in the pond, an invasive species, but the muskrats love it.

13 comments:

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

What a fun capture Jenn, love to see nature in action.

Anvilcloud said...

You are a fine naturalist. That one little muskrat seemed to give you a good stare-down before deciding that you were okay.

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, I'm so jealous of all your wildlife.
But after all the rain you've had, you might want some prairie heat, so we're even.
I really am jealous about the muskrat photos. Before I moved here from BC, I did see one or two beaver, but only in the distance, and of course lots of abandoned beaver lodges.
However, I had never heard or read of these facts about muskrats. SO many babies, and likely more to come. Wow!
Hugs from here,
K
PS—also jealous that Yam is going to visit you, but I'll see her in October.

Nancy J said...

Well, babies galore, I hope they all grow up to live there for a long time,do they move to another part where the water is deeper?

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari om
They are adorable!!! YAM xx

Out To Pasture said...

Your pond is a treasure. I loved watching the baby muskrats. They certainly can pack away the food! Excellent post!

Out To Pasture said...

Your pond is a treasure. I loved watching the baby muskrats. They certainly can pack away the food! Excellent post!

Olga Hebert said...

You do have a spectacular amount of natural entertainment around you. The babies are adorable.

Gill - That British Woman said...

that's pretty neat, I hope they all survive.

Red said...

I always think of the Mackenzie Delta as it was just alive with muskrats. Millions of them were trapped at that time.

DUTA said...

How sweet! 6 naked baby muskrats!
You seem to know a lot about muskrats , and that's quite impressive.
Nice, entertaining video! I've enjoyed watching muskrats eating herbs in a funny way.

Debbie said...

a lot of action going on there. i enjoyed the video, right to the very end!!!

William Kendall said...

Those muskrats are remarkable critters!