Muskrat Dusk

This is how I first noticed this young Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) in the Bronx recently. What, I asked myself, was that? The critter, the size of a small cat, was quite unconcerned about me, although when a human father and son, who chose not to follow my example, got too close it scurried away. But it soon returned when these bothers were out of the way.The animal ate and ate and ate in a small patch, circling around, finally revealing the long rat-like tail. Most Muskrat food is aquatic vegetation, with occasional forays into freshwater clams. But clearly they have a taste for terrestrial greens, too.Thoreau, who called them musquash, had a special affinity for them. I can see why. I stood watching for a good half hour after 5pm. Another, larger specimen emerged on the short, sloping bank by the water but didn’t come into the grazing field, perhaps being wiser than the youngster.The famous tail, the source of the “rat” in “Muskrat.” Works as a fine powered rudder in the water. They are rodents, but not Rattus rats; they’re actually the sole member of their genus. They’ve been introduced to Europe and South America, both to invasive effect. Right here is where they belong.

3 Responses to “Muskrat Dusk”


  1. 1 elwnyc August 27, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I notice it seemed to be eating the clover, not the grass.

  2. 2 peopleplaceswords August 27, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    a man stands waiting, observing, open to possibility. it appears to him.

  3. 3 Alan Baratz August 27, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    One of my favorite critters. (Although I am a sucker for almost any small mammals.)


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