Montana Outdoors

July 11, 2007

More on muskrats

Filed under: Animals, Environment, Montana, Muskrats, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — montucky @ 7:01 pm

Getting photos of wild critters in their natural habitat usually isn’t easy, and that’s the case also for muskrats. They are very alert to sound and movement, blend in very well with the terrain along the pond or creek bank and will quickly dive below the surface upon becoming alarmed. A few days ago I was able to get a few glimpses of them in this setting,

Muskrat pond

and because of the great colors reflected on the water, I posted them. (Now you can see where all the color came from.) This pond is a hundred feet or so off a small stream. Yesterday I visited it again and got several more shots of the little rats,



including this one of a large adult (large being relative…they only get up to about 4 pounds). He would dive into the pond, stay submerged for about a minute, reappear and sit at the water’s edge eating whatever it was that he brought up from the bottom of the pond. I watched him do it a half dozen times before I could get a decent picture.


Today in a fairly still section of the stream I caught a glimpse of a smaller muskrat. There was no good cover in which I could hide, but a fence was strung past that part of the stream, and when the little rat went underwater, I was able to position myself directly behind one of the fence posts so that my head was no more than about a foot above it. Thusly positioned, when the little guy reappeared I was able to convince him that I was nothing more than a tall fence post.

When he traveled, he was always in the water near the bank and if one wasn’t looking for him one would not notice him.


He was having his breakfast, which today consisted of plants that grew up on the bank instead of underwater. He would hurry up the bank a few feet, cut off a section of a plant, and return quickly to the edge of the water to eat it.


Sadly enough, these interesting, harmless little creatures have long been trapped for their very valuable fur.


  1. You must have had so much patience to wait for these shy little rodents and capture their image so well. I especially like the last one with the ripples and reflections on the water and the gleam of the muskrat’s fur in the sunshine.


    Comment by aquamarina — July 12, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  2. yeah, that last one is a nice pict. but they all are. I had no idea there fur was valuable…


    Comment by silken — July 12, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  3. So are they still trapped for their fur, or are they protected? For that matter, are they endangered?

    I agree with the above comments: I really like that last pic. He definitely looks like a character.


    Comment by wolf — July 12, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  4. aquamarina,

    I find that when there’s a wild critter fairly close, as these were, it’s not difficult to be patient. The experience is so captivating for me that hours can go by unnoticed.

    I also like the last shot. It is the best of 5 or 6 that I was able to get.


    Comment by montucky — July 12, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  5. silken,

    Their fur is much like that of beavers, but of course they’re smaller. It’s much in demand.


    Comment by montucky — July 12, 2007 @ 3:48 pm

  6. wolf,

    Yes, they are still being trapped. They are not rare, but most people don’t notice them. I’d bet I could find a bunch of folks even around here who have never seen one. Still, I hate to see them trapped and killed just for their fur!

    They’re cute little guys and very interesting to watch.


    Comment by montucky — July 12, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

  7. In my barn I keep a heated water dish for my cats by the door. On early spring morning, much to my surprise, I found a baby muskrat sitting in the dish. After we got over the shock of seeing one another, it was pretty cute to see him using the dish as a hot tub. He gave up the lap of luxury and headed back out to the pond.


    Comment by Sandy — March 30, 2008 @ 9:53 am

  8. I bet that was really cute! I wonder how that warm water felt to him!


    Comment by montucky — March 30, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  9. They’re pretty cute!


    Comment by Candace — October 4, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

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