Ondatra (musky rat) photo and description of the animal, what eats and how it looks, sizes

The ondatra is the only representative of the family who belongs to the subfamily of the fields from the rodent detachment. The muscular rat is also called the ONDATRE in a different way. She prefers a semiwater habitat. Originated in North America, then was artificially divorced in Eurasia.


The structure of the body of the ondatra is similar to large rats. Adult representatives weigh within two kilograms with a body length from 23 to 36 centimeters. The length of the tail is comparable to the body length and can vary from 18 to 28 centimeters. The body of this animal has a cylindrical shape. Small head with outstretched muzzle. The neck is short. Small ears are located on the head, which can not be seen due to fur. The eyes are small and highly located on the muzzle.

There are incisors on the outside of the oral cavity, which help the animal cope with solid plants under water. The tail is large and flattened, covered with small scales and rare hair. Hind paws are equipped with membranes.

Muscular rats are famous for their wool, which has waterproof quality. The fur itself is rather magnificent and thick. The back and limbs can be painted with black, brown or brown color. On the bottom of the body, the fur is mostly light, the color of which can vary from gray to gray-blue. In the summer, the muskrats look brighter than in winter.

The territory of the habitat

The original homeland of the Ondatar was the territory from North America to Mexico. Due to the fact that the ONDATRA was often brought to Europe, they took root in the territory from Mongolia, China and Korea. Are found on the territory of the fresh rivers of Israel.  In Eurasia, Ondatra can be found in the Eurasian region of Siberia, the Far East and Kamchatka.

As a habitat, peat lakes, streams and canals prefer habitat. Can be next to artificial reservoirs. Some species are found next to urban areas, since people are not afraid of people. Avoid places with frozen water and lack of vegetation.


Ondaters eat plant foods, but can eat various amphibians. From vegetation they prefer cabbage, weeds, reeds and a number of plants located in water. Cracks, small fish, mollusks and frogs can be the victims of the ondatr. Do not disdain to eat carrion. About 7 percent of the diet consists of animal food.

During the cold period, food chastics, as well as underwater roots and tubers are powered. These are very territorial animals, which, even with a great need for food, will not leave their place more than 150 meters.


The muskrats are distinguished by their restlessness. They can be extremely active almost all the time of the day. Their main lesson is reduced to the creation of Nice, which can reach up to 2 meters in diameter and 1.2 meters in depth. As a rule, there is a way out in the tunnel that goes into the water. The internal temperature of the hole is 20 degrees Celsius higher than the temperature outside.

Holes are built separately from each other. It is common for these animals to create their own feeders, which are located 2-8 meters from the hole and are used as storage of food supplies. They break the tunnels from the house to the feeder to have quick access to reserves.

The ondaters are notable for their swimmer skills. Due to the presence of special nutrients in the blood and muscles, they feel great under water without access to air. There were cases when the muskrats were under water for 17 minutes. Due to these skills, they can be hidden from the potential danger of other predators.

Propagation period

The incubation period lasts about 25-35 days. One brood has from 7 to 8 cubs. The area with a cold climate contributes to only two broods for a year, and the inhabitants of the warm climate take up to 5 litters. After childbirth, the male is busy searching for food for the female, as well as the organization of conditions for the survival of cubs.

Babies are born completely blind with a mass of up to 22 grams. After 10 days, they gain the ability to swim, and after a few weeks they can eat vegetation. At the age of 1 year, small muskrats become independent, but the first winter are near parents.

Fraper occurs at the age of 7 to 12 months. The life expectancy in nature is about 3 years, and in captivity up to 10 years.

An ondatra with a cub

Enemies in nature

Since the muskrats are quite numerous in nature, they often become food for many predators. Raccoon, otter, alligators, pikes, owls of sibers and so on attack them. Various crows and magpies can hunt for cubs. Ondaters also often become victims of large foxes and coyots. Ondar minks are destroyed by bears, wild boars and wolves. In order not to fall into the paws of predators, the ondaters are hidden in the depths of the water or inside their mink. In the case of an attack, animals are protected by their claws and teeth.

The ondatra population is characterized by high fertility and good adaptation to environmental changes, but their number is reduced every 6-10 years. This is due to natural cyclic fluctuations, but there is no exact cause.

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