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IDENTIFICATION of MUSKRAT KINGDOM: Animalia PHYLUM: Chordata CLASS: Mammalia ORDER: Rodentia FAMILY: Muridae GENUS: Ondatra SPECIES: Zibethicus.

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Presentation on theme: "IDENTIFICATION of MUSKRAT KINGDOM: Animalia PHYLUM: Chordata CLASS: Mammalia ORDER: Rodentia FAMILY: Muridae GENUS: Ondatra SPECIES: Zibethicus."— Presentation transcript:

1 IDENTIFICATION of MUSKRAT KINGDOM: Animalia PHYLUM: Chordata CLASS: Mammalia ORDER: Rodentia FAMILY: Muridae GENUS: Ondatra SPECIES: Zibethicus

2 IDENTIFICATION (cont.) Total length: 545-640mm (21-25”) Tail length: 250-283mm (9-11”) Hind foot length: 65-78mm (2.5-3”) Ear length: 20-21mm (~1”) Weight: 700-1800g (1.3-4 lbs.) Neonates: ~ 21g

3 IDENTIFICATION (cont.)  Generally, dark brown  Fur color can vary from white & silver through tan, reddish-brown, and black  Ventral pelage lighter than the rest of the fur  Tail and feet are usually dark brown or black

4 IDENTIFICATION (cont.)  Total of 16 teeth  Incisors: 1 pair  Canines: 0  Premolars: 0  Molars: 3 on each side  Dental formula: I-1/1, C-0/0, P-0/0, M-3/3=16

5 TAIL EYES Top of the head allowing it to see above water while swimming. Flattened and scaly


7 BIOLOGY Scent glands: two at the base of the tail (hence the name muskrat) Tail: scaly, flattened, serves as a rudder when swimming Feet: partly webbed hind feet, with short stiff hairs lining the toes, called the ‘swimming fringe’ Swimming: can swim at a rate of 1.5-5km/hr, can swim backwards, & can stay submerged for up to 20 minutes

8 BIOLOGY (cont.) Pelage: layer of soft, dense underfur interspersed with long, coarse guard hairs. The underfur is waterproof, and a layer of trapped air in the non- wettable fur enhances the buoyancy and insulation. Annual molt: begins in the summer, minimum density in August

9 BODY TEMPERATURE Tail: helps with thermoregulation by functioning as a heat sink Wika & Pasche: heat loss through the tail is proportional to the temperature gradients between the tail and the environment Prevent loss of body heat: -get out of the water -increase abdominal temp.

10 LIFE HISTORY  Generally promiscuous  Males compete fiercely for mates  Sexually active spring after birth  Spermatogenesis begins in early spring and lasts into late autumn  Vaginal orifice is sealed from birth and opens just before breeding activity  Estrus cycle: 3-6 days  Gestation period: 25-30 days  Litter size: 4-8 (mean of 6 or 7)

11 LIFE HISTORY (cont.) Litter size and number influenced by: -latitude -southern latitudes: more litters/year -habitat quality -poorer habitat produce fewer litters and smaller sizes

12 LIFE HISTORY (cont.) NEONATES:  Blind  Hairless  Pink or gray in color  Rounded tail

13 LIFE HISTORY (cont.) YOUNG:  Covered with soft fur  Swim within 14 days  Tail becomes compressed during 2 nd month  Weaned at 4 weeks  Males grow faster than females  Average life is only 2-3 years

14 ECOLOGY FEEDING: Omnivorous PREY: amphibians, snails, crustaceans, mussels, turtles, fish, roots and leaves of hydrophytes

15 ECOLOGY (cont.) PREDATORS:  Raccoons  Red foxes  Wild dogs  Bald eagles  Great-horned owl  Red-tailed hawk  Hunters/trappers

16 ECOLOGY (cont.) HOUSING LOCATIONS:  Conical houses  Dig burrows into banks  Push-ups over icecracks TYPES OF HOUSES:  Main dwelling house  Feeding house

17 HOUSING DESIGN/ARCHITECTURE:  Site selection influenced by: water depth, soil texture, amount of aquatic vegetation  Begin building in May/June, October  Large lodges of vegetation—will live in small family groups  Multiple lodges in an area—up to 5 muskrats/lodge  Construction begins on firm substrate, w/dominant emergent vegetation  Houses built above the water level  Several underwater tunnels  Nest chambers lined with fresh plant material

18 HOUSING ( cont.)  Temperature inside houses higher than surrounding temperature  “Huddling”-increases the temperature, increasing survival during the winter

19 HOME RANGE:  Small home range  Within 15 m of their primary dwelling  Foraging usually within 5-10 m of lodge or push-up  Move greater distance on rainy days

20 DISPERSAL:  Occurs in March/April  Dispersal initiated by:  Snow  Ice  Air temperature  Population density  Sex/age composition  Forced movements caused by floods, drought, intraspecific strife

21 DISPERSAL (cont.):  After dispersal, usually return to their home range  Study by Mallach:  500-2,000 m away-----57% returned  3,000 m away----------31% returned  4,000 m away----------15% returned

22 DISEASES: -Adiaspiromycosis-Ringworm disease -Epizootic disease-Salmonellosis -Hemorrhagic disease-Tuluremia -Leptospirosis-Tyzzer’s disease -Pseudotuberculosis-Yellow fat disease

23 PARASITES: -36 trematodes -19 nematodes -13 cestodes - 2 acanthocephalans -17 acarina

24 ENDOPARASITES: -Trematodes: -Echinostoma revolutum -Plagiorchis proximus -Quinqueserialis quinqueserialis -Nematodes: Trichuris opaca -Cestodes: -Hymenolepsis spp. -Taenia taeniaeformis *little impact, except Taenia taeniaeformis (tapeworm)- causes females to produce fewer young

25 ECTOPARASITES: -mites -ticks *can cause skin rash, but generally not fatal

26 POPULATION STATUS  Solid population throughout N. Am., as well as in KY.  Occur from the Yukon & NW Territories to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Aleutian Islands east to the Atlantic coast, and south to N. Carolina

27 POPULATION (cont.)  Muskrat population generally follow a 10 year cycle.  An increase in muskrat population is often followed by an increase in mink population a year later, and an increase in mink population is generally followed by a decrease in muskrats a year later.  Population is estimated based on the fur harvest.  Muskrat houses can be used to estimated population densities.  They are not threatened or endangered.

28 WETLAND HABITAT NEEDS  Fresh and Saltwater marshes, swamps, river banks, ponds, lakes  Nest in bulky nests of plants on open swampland  Also nest in tunnels dug into river banks above the high water mark

29 WETLAND HABITAT NEEDS (cont.)  Require aquatic vegetation for food and for housing material  Food such as snails, crustaceans, mussels, turtles, fish

30 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS  The most valuable semi-aquatic furbearing mammal, with the pelt industry in the millions of dollars BOMBER HATRUSSIAN HAT

31 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS (cont.)  Mgmt. Practices to increase muskrats:  Create marshes, ponds  Don’t destroy wetlands for agriculture  Control water levels on marshes with an irregular water source to encourage growth of favored plant species  Construct level ditches in shallow marshes to ensure adequate water depths during winter  Controlled burning during early spring to prevent buildup of dead vegetation and release nutrients into the ecosystem  Fence off all except a small portion of ponds, creeks, and wetlands on farms where livestock are kept to prevent grazing and trampling of the shoreline

32 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS (CONT.) PROBLEMS:  Garden damage  Overgraze marsh vegetation  Burrow holes under dams and dikes  Cause damage to irrigation canals & farm ponds  “Eat-outs”-the extensive loss of vegetation & resulting silting that makes the areas less productive for other species of wildlife

33 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS (cont.) OVERPOPULATION REMEDIES  Treat garden plants with ROPEL  Gassing/poisoning  Shooting/trapping  Water drawdowns or burning  “Rip-rap” banks with crushed stone

34 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS (cont.) KY HUNTING/TRAPPING REGULATIONS  All furbearer hunting/trapping:  Raccoon, opossum, mink, muskrat, beaver, red fox, gray fox, weasel, striped skunk  Noon 11/10/03 - noon 2/29/04  no hunting or trapping bag limits

35 IDENTIFICATION OF NUTRIA Order: Rodentia Family: Myocastoridae Genus: Myocastor Species: Coypus

36 DESCRIPTION SIZE  Head and body: 22-25”  Tail: 12-17”  Weight: 10-30 lbs

37 DESCRIPTION (cont.)  Pelage: soft dense underfur and long, coarse guard hairs. Underfur is densest on the abdomen and thickest during the winter.  Pelage color: yellow-brown to dark-brown, with the chin covered by white hairs. The tail is scantily haired.  Long, round tail

38 DESCRIPTION (cont.) FEET  First 4 digits of the hind feet are webbed  5 th toe is free and used in grooming  Front digits are strongly clawed  Pollex is reduced  Soles of the feet are hairless

39 BIOLOGY  Female has 4 or 5 pairs of mammary glands located dorsally, which allows for suckling young while swimming  An oily secretion from glands located at the base of sensory bristles near the mouth and anus lubricates the pelage when grooming  These secretions are also used to delineate home ranges

40 BIOLOGY (cont.)  Femur has a well developed trochanter for attachment of the muscles involved in swimming  Well developed deltoid crest and a large scapula fossa aid in burrowing  Nocturnal, and spend most of their time feeding, grooming, and swimming  Become diurnal during cold periods to recover feeding time lost while huddling at night  Can remain submerged for greater than 10 minutes

41 LIFE HISTORY REPRODUCTION  Nonseasonal breeders  Peak births- Jan., Mar., May, Oct. in Oregon  Peak births- Dec.-Jan. and June-July in Louisiana  Mean litter size: 3-6 (declines during winter months & increases when food is abundant and mild winter)  Usually have litters in open nests at the edge of a body of water, or in large nest chambers deep in their burrows  ~27% of litters are aborted

42 REPRODUCTION (cont.)  Young are precocial  ~225g at birth  Rapidly gain weight during first 5 months  No difference in mass between males and females at birth, but when fully grown males are up to 15% heavier

43 ECOLOGY  Live in aquatic habitats- rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, bogs  Swims well, makes shallow burrows in banks with an enlarged nesting chamber at rear  Remain in one area throughout their life, however freezing weather or drought may cause migration  Daily cruising range is less than 45 m  Daytime activity is influenced by temperature, with sunning and sleeping being the main activities if less than 28ºC

44 POPULATION STATUS  Native to South America  As a result of escapes and liberations from fur farms, populations now exist around the world  By 1959, there were 20 million in Louisiana  First pelts reached the market in 1944, and harvest grew to 1 million pelts by 1987

45 WETLAND HABITAT NEEDS  Prefer river banks, marshes, ponds, swamps, bogs  Like to burrow in banks  Aquatic vegetation for food – stems, leaves, roots, and bark (also feed on agricultural crops)

46 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS  Not generally a problem, except at high densities  Disrupt drainage systems, damage crops, disturb natural plant communities  Burrows can weaken river banks that keep low lying land from flooding  CONTROL PROCEDURES  Shooting, trapping, baiting, chemicals

47 MANAGEMENT CONCERNS (cont.)  Severe cold weather can decrease pop.  S. Am. Predators-jaguar, mountain lion, little spotted cat, caymans  La. Predators-alligators, gars, turtles, large snakes

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