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Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

Our Exhibits Meet State Standards!

Our diorama halls are just one place where teachers and chaperones can meet State Standards! To download easy-to-use field trip guides that are aligned with Standards.
Learn More

Mammalogy Contacts

Jim Dines
Collections Manager
(213) 763-3400
jdines@nhm.org

David Janiger
Curatorial Assistant
(213) 763-3369
djaniger@nhm.org

 

Muskrat

Ondatra zibethicus (Linnaeus, 1766)

Muskrat diorama in the North American Mammal Hall

Scene:

 Gray Lodge Waterfowl Refuge, Gridley, California

Background artist:

 Robert C. Clark

Muskrats are excellent swimmers and evade many predators by escaping into water or into their burrows and nests. They can remain under water for up to 15 minutes.

Muskrats are very abundant in appropriate habitats, making them important prey animals for predator populations.

Muskrats are often considered pests because they eat farm crops, especially grain. Their burrows block drains and sometimes cause dikes to fail.


Biological Information

Range map for the muskrat

Range:

Northern North America to the Gulf Coast and Mexico

Habitat:

Swamps, marshes and wetlands

Status:

Widespread and abundant in suitable habitats

Diet:

Aquatic plants and agricultural crops

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for muskrat.