The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Llama
Story Of The Carpincho
Story Of The Ant-eater
Story Of The Ostrich
Story Of The Lizard
Story Of The Kangaroo
Story Of The Hedgehog.
Story Of The Wild Goat
Story Of The Musquash
Story Of The Wart-hog
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Story Of The Musquash
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
There are few American boys who have not had some experience with the musquash, commonly called muskrat. I have trapped hundreds of them accidentally. By this I mean that I have set traps for beavers, otters and minks, and upon visiting them the next day would find in a number of them only muskrats, instead of the prey I was after.
The musquash is a massively-built animal about a foot in length, with a tail ten inches long. The general color of the fur is blackish brown, turning into gray on the muzzle and under parts, and has the soft and velvety texture of that of the beaver. It is, however, mostly shorter than in the latter, although on the back and flanks there are interspersed a number of longer bristle-like hairs.
The geographical range of the musquash extends from the so-called barren grounds of Arctic America to the genial climate of the Rio Grande, while it also reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Musk-rats are thoroughly adapted for life in the water, and generally frequent ponds, swamps and sluggish streams. Although their food consists mainly of the roots of grasses and water-plants, they consume considerable quantities of river mussels; they will likewise catch and eat fish, while they are said at times to devour the flesh of such individuals of their own species as they may find dead, or wounded and helpless. Occasionally they wander considerable distances from the water.
The musquash is an excellent diver, being able to remain below the surface of the water for a considerable time. -It is less of a night animal than the beaver, and often may be seen swimming about in broad daylight, especially in cloudy weather. When diving it makes a loud noise by striking the water with its tail, the same as a beaver.
Its long burrow always has its entrance below the surface of the water, from which it inclines upwards in the bank ten or fifteen feet, and then widens out into a large chamber where the musquash makes its nest. Sometimes it will have one or two burrows leading from this chamber further into the bank.
Frequently the musquash collects heaps of vegetable matter in the form of hay-cocks over the place where it nests, with an airhole connecting its chamber with the outside world. In this respect also it resembles the beaver, except that many of the "musk-rat houses" contain no mud or sticks, but consist wholly of balls and knots of roots and swamp-grasses.
The materials of which the hut is composed, it will be observed, are such as serve as food for the animals (luring the long winters; hence the musk-rat's house is in reality a storehouse, which he devours piecemeal as the winter advances.