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Fresh Tender Greens

Fresh Tender Greens
Photo Information
Copyright: Rick Price (Adanac) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-06-07
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 40D, Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-06-08 13:16
Viewed: 3807
Points: 34
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hi All,
I ran away for a few days to the Cypress Hills as my days off are cut short this time due work. As seems what is becoming the norm we had rain all three days but still had a good time. Lucy was very excited to see this Muskrat as she has never seen one out of the water, she was amazed at its long claws.

Common Muskrat
Ondatra zibethicus
General Description

By Gustave J. Yaki

The muskrat, a member of the Family Cricetidae, is our largest vole. It is particularly adapted to an amphibuous life. For many humans, it is of most interest as a fur-bearer, with from one to four million pelts taken in Canada each year. Its flesh is also readily eaten.

The Common Muskrat occupies most of the USA and Canada although those on Newfoundland may be a separate species. It is absent from Florida and the arid portions of the southwestern states -- and in Canada, in southwestern B.C. and most of the northern tundra. It was introduced to Anticosti Island, Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlottes.

It was also introduced to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America as a fur-bearer. Of course, since it did not evolve in that environment, it is now wreaking havoc with the ecosystem there.

In appearance, the muskrat looks like a giant vole. It possesses long, lustrous, rich-brown guard hairs and a dense, soft, lead-grey, waterproof underfur. The underside is silvery. Its short ears are hidden in the fur. The long, bare, scaly, black tail is vertically compressed, with hairy fringes on the top and bottom. The hind feet are webbed. Its fleshy, furred lips close behind the orange incisor teeth enabling it to gnaw below water without letting any into its mouth.

Average male measurements are: total length, 572 mm (23 in); tail, 256 mm (10 in); weight, 1.13 k (2.5 lb). Females are slightly smaller.

Spending most of its time in water, the muskrat is an excellent swimmer. It can go long distances under water -- one-hundred metres or more --and remains submerged for two to three minutes. When stressed, it has been known to stay under for 17 minutes. The tail, besides serving as a rudder, may assist in propulsion by moving from side to side. When loafing, it sometimes hold the tail above the water surface.

Muskrats live in sloughs, marshes, lakes and streams where there is aquatic vegetation. They live in family units, defending an area at least sixty metres across. In autumn they leave shallow wetlands (which might freeze to the bottom), travelling overland to seek areas that will provide for their winter survival. They avoid wetlands more than four metres deep because it will lack submergent vegetation.

In summer muskrats feed mostly on readily available emergent vegetation -- broad-leaved cattail, bulrush, sedges, sweet flag (Acorus), arrowheads, water lily and pondweeds. They also partake of animal matter, in particular, freshwater mussels. It is also reported that they consume frogs, salamanders, small turtles and slow-moving fish. They apparently do not store food for winter use. In winter, they add the less palatable coontail, water milfoil, bladderwort, water lily tubers and bur-reed to their diet.

Besides humans, muskrats become food for many other species. Mink are probaly their main predator. However, especially when travelling across land in autumn and spring, they become easy prey for Gray Wolves, Coyotes, Red Foxes, Black Bears, Canada Lynx and Bald and Golden Eagles, Northern Goshawks and Great Horned Owls. Aquatic predators such as Northern Pike and Snapping Turtle take some young muskrats.

Typically, their winter home is a mass of vegetation -- cattails and bulrushes plastered with mud, built near deep water. This mass, which may rise to almost a metre above the water surface level, freezes solid in winter, discouraging predation by wolves or other carnivores. The muskats cut out a below-water entrance and make a dry sleeping platforms inside. In building this shelter, they always provide a small opening at the top, allowing the moist, stale air to escape.

Muskrats also use bank dens if there is sufficient nearby firm ground and depth so that they can enter from below water-level. The tunnel leads upward one to ten metres, to warm dry chambers. Muskrats prefer to raise their young in these bank burrows. In summer, if the wetland becomes shallow because of evaporation or drought, muskrats may dig a series of water-filled canals radiating from their home.

In Canada the breeding season is March to September. They appear to be monogamous. The gestation period is 22 to 30 days. The females take possession of the closest bank dens, forcing the excess males and females to vacate, to give birth to a litter of one to eleven young. Normally two litters are produced in Canada. (In Louisiana, it ranges from three to six litters a year). The young are weaned between day 21 and 28, and are independent by one month of age.

nglen, eqshannon, jaycee, Jamesp, CeltickRanger, maurydv, NinaM, mala-zaba, fartash has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-06-08 13:19]

Hi Rick . I hope all is well with you on this sunday .A nice close up of the Muskrat. good detail and natural looking colours. I like the detail in the little hands and the way it uses them to hold the reeds. well done TFS.

I wonder who wants to see which first..I know I would love the Cypress Hills and I also know you would love the Palouse...What kind of rig do you have? If you had a smaller car with good mileage and fine visibility to drive down this way later in summer...>? Fine image and it looks as is in natural ways....that's what it is supposed to be!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-06-08 13:43]

Hi Rick,

A great shot of this very cute and very wet muskrat. Excellent details of his face, coat and hands. I love the way he is holding onto the reeds. He seems to be concentrating on whatever it is he is doing. Wonderful colors and shades in the wet fur. A marvelous natural setting and great composition.


  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-06-08 13:44]
  • [+]

Hi Rick

Excellent action shot - great detail and pose. Well seen and captured.

How close were you?


  • Great 
  • mariki Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 838 W: 60 N: 2307] (9477)
  • [2008-06-08 13:45]

Hello Rick,

A wonderful picture of this muskrat. Very good composition. Excellent POV, DOF and sharpness. Splendid colours. Very beautiful picture.
Well done,

Hi Rick,

Very nice colse-up picture of Muskrat in action. Very good composition, sharp details, great BG and colours.



hello Rick

you did a superb close shot of the Common Muskrat,
with fine POV and DOF, excellent sharpness and details,
i love his eye-contact with you while he is eating, TFS


Hello Rick,
Great capture of this adorable muskrat,
Superb sharpness and depth of field, fantastic
details, the wet fur is amazing, very nice natural
colors, very informative note.

Bellissimo momento di cattura, eccellenti POV e composizione, ottima nitidezza, molto belli i particolari del muso e delle zampette, bellissimi i colori. Grazie e complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-06-09 5:47]

Bonjour Mr.Rick, this is a very cute little muskrat and I understand Lucy to be so happy seeing one! I saw one here on the lawn, once, and the cat Joe Burger was following it and it returned to the lake... quite funny to watch! Your picture is once more very nice with the muskrat having a bite at what seems delicious. Thanks again dear friend,


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-06-09 8:12]

Hello Rick,
Where I live these animals are a pest. There are special people who try to catch them, whole year long. They destroy our environment.
But your photo is a beauty! Beautiful natural colours and a very sharp focus. Great composition.

Hi Rick,
Nice portrait. The POV is well done.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-06-09 8:27]

Very good shot of this Muskrat, Rick!
Stunning detail and incredibly sharp.
Well composed, great POV and a superb pose.
Excellent DOF.
Perfect light.

Well done!


Dear Rick
Wonderful shot of this cute Common Muskrat,
Great focusing,exposure and POV.Welldone my friend.



"Make sure you eat your greens!"
Very nicely done. I like the pose and moment captured here. Very nicely composed with excellent colors and detail. TFS.

Best Regards,


  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-06-09 22:52]

Hi Rick,
Wonderful close-up shot of this Common Muskrat in its natural habitat. The wet fur looks great and the image is neat and sharp. I like its cute pose too. Excellent low POV and very nicely composed. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-06-15 21:47]

Hello Rick

A lovely lush image with this muskrat.
The detail is excellent.
Very good pov and focus.
The detail in the paws showing the claws is super.
Well done.

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