What does muskrat eat? Lifestyle and photos
Ondatra in appearance something likehamster, but it lives in water. Its long tail, partially covered with scales, helps to dive and swim. It is interesting to understand the way of life of this funny animal, to find out what the muskrat feeds in different periods of the year.
This is a mammal from a detachment of rodents scientistsbelong to the family of hamsters (voles), singling out in a genus the only species - muskrat. It is believed that the birthplace of the beast is North America. It was from there at the beginning of the 20th century that the animal was brought to the European continent.
Ondatras well acclimatized andspread in different latitudes. This was promoted by the policy of purposeful increase in the number of livestock. Animals were bred for obtaining skins. Fur products from them were valued for quality podpushka (did not pass water) and appearance.
The nature of the pond depends on what it feeds onmuskrat. Regardless of the habitat (pond, swampy terrain, river), water and coastal vegetation prevail. Most of the time muskrats spend in the water. They also prefer to procure food for themselves, because on land they are less agile and can become easy prey for carnivorous predators.
Inconsistency on land is one of the reasonsthat the muskrats have adapted to live in water. There they prefer to build their homes. The outlet of the hole usually settles below the water level, taking into account the thickness of its freezing. Swims muskrat quickly and quickly. Her webbed feet are well adapted to this. Helps to swim, hold and quickly change the direction of movement of the long tail. It is round and thick at the base, and towards the end it flattens from the sides. Ondatra during diving can hold your breath for up to 15 minutes or more. Her blood shows an increased amount of hemoglobin, and the muscles contain myoglobin, which binds free oxygen.
How and what does the muskrat eat under water? Another feature of the animal is the location of the incisors. They are separated from the oral cavity by a nasolabial septum. This arrangement allows you to gnaw thick and sturdy stems and rhizomes of aquatic vegetation under water. Ondatra can not be drowned. It gnaws out the vestigial part of the plant at the bottom, floats up to it with a surface, pulls it to the chosen place (aft table), and there it eats calmly.
The body of the animal is well adapted to life in the water. Head small, small eyes. The body is waxy, the tail is long and mobile. Hind legs are longer and more powerful with developed membranes. Ears are small and almost not protruding from the undercoat (red, brown).
Outwardly, muskrat can be considered a large pasyuk. Its second name is a musk rat. The animal really looks like this rodent. But a long and distinctive tail, as well as thick fur with a rare coarse hair, distinguishes the muskrat from the usual gray rat. The size of the animal is larger. An adult weighs up to 1.5 kg with a body length of up to 35 cm. The tail of the muskrat can reach up to 25 cm. There is no significant difference between males and females.
Usually it has enough food in the pond. She makes walks and in the coastal zone, looking for food and building material for her dwellings. In the neighborhood with gardens or agricultural lands, animals can cause some damage to cultural plantations. In rare cases, when there is not enough fodder in the pond, the muskrat feeds on pond snorkel or other mollusks. It is noticed that she can eat fish, frogs and even carrion. With serious overpopulation, cannibalism was noted.
Ondatra is active mainly at dusk andat night. In the daytime you can meet her during the mating season. The offspring of muskrat appear 2 - 3 times a year. In the litter, usually 6 to 8 cubs. They are born blind and only reach the end of a fortnight. Almost a month the mother feeds the cubs with milk. Male is allowed to rearing offspring only when it can already feed on its own. The grown-up generation of the female expels out of the plot and they are forced to look for a new habitat.
The muskrat does not get wet, although it seemsstuck together. After shaking on land, the animal again acquires a neat appearance. The podpushke contains a large amount of air. It not only gives a good buoyancy, but also allows you to keep the body warm. It molts the muskrat from the spring to the late autumn.
Regardless of what the muskrat feeds inpond, it has the most complete enemies (wolves, foxes, stray dogs). When migrating, small animals can travel long distances (tens of kilometers). During this period they become easy prey. Their paws are not adapted to prolonged movement overland. Long tails are ripped to the blood. Weakened animals often die without finding a suitable reservoir for settling.
What does muskrat eat in summer
The basis of its diet is water and coastalvegetation. In the spring, with the beginning of vegetation the main food is the overwintered and growing stems of sedges and reeds. Well eaten horsetails, reeds, rdest. Also muskrat eats cattails and watch. In summer and autumn, muskrats have a rich diet. You can choose the well-developed stems of underwater vegetation in warm water or feed on their rhizomes. If desired, you can make an "inventory" of the coastal zone. The animal can be interested in young shoots of shrubs. Ontatra can bite even the bark from the trees, prefers the willow.
What does the muskrat eat on the river? Animals are not fastidious. In the food is any suitable greens: water lily, cattail, watercolor, citnik, elodea. Ondatras quickly get used to the new situation. When changing habitat conditions, choose the most suitable area, immediately looking for a place for possible burrow equipment. Where feed is found, fodder tables are equipped. Usually it is a conveniently located dry hummock.
What does muskrat eat in winter
The forage base changes with the change of the seasons of the year. It is impossible for a muskrat to walk fat for the winter period during the summer. In hibernation, it does not flow. Since the autumn, he has been trying to collect a sufficient supply of food, dumping it in various parts of the reservoir. At the beginning of winter, she still can easily find food among the dying shoots of horsetails, cattails and reeds.
Later, it extracts their rhizomes located on theThe surface of the bottom or lying in the bottom layer of silt. With a shortage of food for a while can eat and animal food. The advantage is given to bivalve mollusks and pond snake. Catching crustaceans, weakened and cured fish, can use carrion.
What does the muskrat eat in the lake, if it is in winteralmost completely freezes? As a rule, such reservoirs are not populated by muskrat. The usual depth at the exit of her burrow is more than a meter. In the case of a harsh winter or temporary weather, the muskrat feeds on the walls of his hut. Since autumn, it begins to pull together to the site of construction of a branch of a bush and fallen trees, reeds, sedge, cattail. Staples the stems with clay and silt. The height of the house can reach a meter, and the pile is located in a circle with a diameter of up to two meters.
Ondatra is grown in private and special farmsmainly for obtaining fur pelts. From such raw materials cheap coats, headdresses, accessories are obtained. The fur is light, well repels water and serves several seasons. After 4 - 5 years of using the product still lose sight.
Meat of animals is also edible and in some placescan be considered a delicacy. To taste it is something like a rabbit and was formerly called a "swamp rabbit". For rubbing in folk medicine, fat is used. The secret of glands of males, located on the abdomen in the inguinal region, has a sharp musky odor. Animals use it to tag the boundaries of their territory. It can also be used in the perfume industry.
Content in captivity
With artificial cultivation, the food baseis different from what the muskrat feeds in a pond or other natural body of water. Breed animals in aviaries or cages with an outlet to the fenced part of the reservoir. During construction of the nest, branches and other building material are thrown. Ondatras do not build large nests in an artificial environment. If it is impossible to provide access to the pond, a pelvis is placed in the cage, where the animals will bathe. Water is changed twice a day.
They eat almost anything they give. Eat well on vegetables. Do not give up fresh grass dandelions, wormwood. With pleasure they will eat the sloping coastal vegetation. You can give sprouted wheat, boiled porridge, bread. As an additive to food during the growth period, it is advisable to add a small amount of animal feed: cottage cheese, milk, meat and fish products.
With proper care and good maintenance of muskratsrelatively quickly get used to the person. There are cases when these animals lived next to humans as pets. Although this way of keeping can be dangerous. Ondatra is still an animal of wild nature. In addition, they can tolerate certain types of diseases.