Muskats of North America
The muskrat is a semi-aquatic rodent native to North American marshes and wetlands.
The species is famous for its dense, attractive coat, which can be chocolate brown, reddish or black in color.
Muskrats reach lengths of around two feet long (tail included). Like most rodents, their eyes and ears are small. Their webbed rear feet and flattened tail make them excellent swimmers.
These shy animals play an important role in marsh eco-systems. Throughout much of the USA and Canada, muskrats are harvested for food, fur and scent.
Where Do Muskrats Live?
Muskrats are found in Canada, the United States and parts of northern Mexico. They prefer marshes, swamps, shorelines, ditches, canals, creeks, small ponds, and other aquatic areas.
Muskrats multiply rapidly. An adult female can have two or three litters of young each summer. Young of the species grow rapidly and can live on their own after only one month.
If they become overly-abundant, they can create problems related to their digging and tunneling.
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Muskrats are also known as "marsh rabbits". The meat is red, mild tasting and easy to prepare. Muskrat meat is usually soaked overnight in a brine that consists of roughly 1 tbsp. salt per quart of water.
Most recipes involve slow roasting or stewing the whole animal until very tender. Typically, recipes include herbs such as sage, oregano, garlic or other flavors that compliment red meats. Some muskrat recipes call for frying or baking, rather than stewing.