Beavers, Muskrats, Lodges, Dams, Caches and Push-ups!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The shortest day of the year draws near. First ice is already forming in the shallows of marshes and wetlands. Those signals of nature’s way indicate that the clock of winter preparedness is rapidly ticking away for two semi-aquatic mammals that live in our midst, and are often confused: the beaver (Castor canadensis) and the muskrat (Ondatra zibenthicus). Both species are dependent on aquatic environments. Both species build lodges in the water. Both species can stay underwater for about fifteen minutes. Both have the ability to created dens in river banks and lakeshores by using the claws on their front paws. However, the muskrat loses out totally when it comes to felling trees. The beaver, and the beaver alone, is the master logger. Continue reading

MUSKRATS: Masters of the Murky Marsh

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY dscn4041

With a bit of imagination, the common muskrat might be compared to a very large field mouse: one with a can do attitude that easily adapts to life in the wetlands and waterways of Oakland County. To muskrats, winter is not an obstacle for cozy living. For just like beavers, the muskrat prepares, with a few additional twists of its own, to guarantee Homeland Security during winter. This paunchy appearing rodent is covered with a rich, dark brown waterproof layer of fur (except on its scaly-skin tail). As soon as ice coats the lakes of the Oakland County Parks, the well dressed for the weather muskrats create pushups. Pushups provide a unique way for them to feed, travel and stay out of sight.img_8308

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