Muskrat Love

Article, images, and videos by Annette Bays

Read time: 3 minutes

Over the years we have seen muskrats in our ponds on and off. They never seem to stay for long, but they have burrowed into the bank and made a home, sometimes even overwintering. They do take the cattails down and take them into the burrows, presumably to eat, but don’t stay long enough to make an impact on the cattail population which is their main food source.

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Well, one year our cattails seemed to be getting out of control. We had heard that a pond can be taken over by cattails, and once that happens it can’t be undone. So, that fall, my husband set about pulling them out in key areas. This was an arduous and exhausting job that took many days to complete, but we were happy with the results – for a while.

You see, the next spring turned out to be the year that our semi-resident muskrat found a mate and decided to make our ponds his more permanent home. They started to take cattails down in earnest, to the point where we were worried there might not be anywhere left for the red winged blackbirds to nest. But, as it turned out, they didn’t decimate all the cattails and in the years since they have filled out again. I suppose this is an example of nature keeping things in balance, if we would only step aside.

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We also had the treat that year of witnessing the introduction of a new muskrat life into our world. He was a sweet innocent thing and I had the pleasure one day of spending a good long time on the grassy bank watching him eat. I was very close to him, and at times he even looked me right in the eye, but he seemed to have no concept of my existence at all.  Until I spoke that is, at which point he quickly ran off into the pond. But I enjoyed our short relationship immensely.

Muskrat Love
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