Common Mammal Species of Northwestern Ontario





Ondatra zibethicus


Distinguishing Features - Overall colouration, silvery-brown to dark brown oily, waterproof fur with chestnut to hazel sides; underparts, grayish; tail flattened vertically, without fur; hind feet, partially webbed.

Muskrat Size -
Male: .48 - .6 m (1.6 - 2 ft)
Female: .51 - .57 m (1.7 - 1.9 ft)


Common throughout Northwestern Ontario, primarily in lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers and streams; in water deep enough that it will not freeze to the bottom.


Primarily a herbivore; aquatic vegetation. On occasion, crayfish, frogs, clams, small turtles and young waterfowl.


The muskrat shares many similarities with the beaver; both have a thick, waterproof coats overlaid with long, oily guard hairs; their partially-webbed hind feet and wide tails are perfect for swimming. Like the beaver, the muskrat has the ability to build houses. A muskrat will burrow a den into an embankment with an underwater entrance and exit tunnel.

The mauskrat has been extensively trapped for its fur and is subjected to heavy predation by minks, wolves, coyotes, lynx, bobcats, red fox, black bears and large birds of prey. Nevertheless, it still thrives in large numbers in Northwestern Ontario. Its survival rate can be attributed to producing at least 2 (sometimes 3) litters of 6 to 8 offspring every year.

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