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.