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North Dakota Game Species
Fact Sheet
Scientific Name Ondatra zibethicus
Description Muskrats are a small, aquatic rodent with short limbs and a long, nearly hairless tail. Muskrats have short, plush fur that is light to dark brown with a lighter chin and throat. Th e hind feet are partially webbed.
Tracks Track Front– 1" L, 1" W Raccoon Rear– 2.5" L, 1" W
Total Length 32-36 inches
Weight 2-4 pounds
Habitat Muskrats are found throughout North Dakota, but are most common east of the Missouri River. Muskrats live in wetlands, ponds, lakes, streams and backwaters. They either build huts made of plant material or dig burrows into banks.
Breeding Season April-August
Gestation Period 25-30 days
Litter Size 1-11 (average 6-7) - Muskrats are capable of producing more than one litter per year.
Social Aspects Muskrats are generally believed to form mated pairs, but some research indicates that males are polygamous. Either way, muskrats are territorial and are aggressive to one another. Several muskrats are known to huddle together in a single hut during cold months.
Status Furbearer with a limited open season and stable population.
Food Habits Muskrats are primarily herbivorous and eat aquatic vegetation such as cattails, reeds and bulrushes.
Fun Facts Similar to beavers, the lips on a muskrat close behind the incisors, which enables them to chew and feed underwater.