"A Sand County Almanac"

"THERE ARE SOME WHO CAN LIVE WITHOUT WILD THINGS AND SOME WHO CANNOT."
"FOR US IN THE MINORITY THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE GEESE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TELEVISION.".....Aldo Leopold




"LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE, AND THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER".....Albert Einstein


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Down At The Creek, Beavers and Muskrats

About a week ago I made a post about the mink mating season being underway.  This post is about the other two water mammals found in our area, muskrats and beavers.

The small creek near my home has both and they often share the same area, and even the same den.  Muskrats are much smaller than beavers, weighing only about three pounds...



Beavers are much larger, with adults commonly weighing sixty pounds or more...



Both of these species are preparing to give birth soon. This morning I photographed a pair of beavers as they gathered dry grass to line their burrow...











Just a few days ago, in the same location, I observed muskrats also collecting dried grass...










When they live in moving water muskrats and beavers use burrows dug into the stream bank...



They always have underwater entrance holes that are most commonly used.  Beavers store food such as limbs and twigs both underwater and on the bank over their burrows...



Muskrats are omnivores and, as such, do not compete with beavers for food.  Muskrats have been known to eat crayfish, mussels, and insects, but their most common foods are cattails and aquatic plants such as duckweed...



Wood ducks also eat duckweed and this muskrat is in no mood to share...





In still water such, as ponds and marshes, muskrats will create burrows called "push-ups" of grass or cattail stalks...



These push-ups look similar to beaver lodges but are much smaller...



For comparison, the next photo is a beaver lodge that is roughly 60 feet in diameter...



Beavers commonly fell trees in their area.  I found the cutting pattern on this one interesting...




Beavers only have one litter each year.  If one is lucky there may be an opportunity to see the young, called kits...





This beaver swam to within a few feet of my parking spot...



Because of their similar appearance many people are confused about the identity of these two animals...



If you live near waterways, always pause and observe to see what wildlife may live in your neighborhood.

Thanks for visiting, be well and come back soon.

6 comments:

  1. Steve, I think this is my favorite of all of your posts. The photos are stunning, and the information fills out what little I knew. Thanks so much.

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    1. Thank you. It is always rewarding when someone gets some new information from the blog.

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  2. First, great photos and great blog. I have it bookmarked on my phone and check this site often.

    This morning I was on a run and stopped to check out a flooded area next to the Potomac. Suddenly, a beaver appears and begins to beeline towards me. It flapped it's tail, submerged, reemerged, then repeated the process. After a few minutes I proceeded down the trail and the beaver seemed to "follow" me while swimming in the water, flapping its tail all the while. Wondering if you think there might have been kits in the den nearby?

    PS - Despite spending a lot if time in the woods (and along waterways), I have seen otter, but still have yet to see any mink in/around the greater DC area. I'm envious of your many encounters!

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    1. KLIM, Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think it is likely that the beaver has a den nearby with young. Good luck with having a mink sighting. Patience is the key.

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