Ijams educator and local artist Sarah Brobst was kayaking upstream on the inner river channel near Otter Island and the Ijams Homesite when she noticed a curious young muskrat swimming.
Curious is an accurate descriptor.
As Sarah sat motionless tucked in beside a half-submerged log, the young wet mammal came along side her red kayak for a closer look and sniff. Perhaps realizing it wasn't edible or a threat, it turned and slowly dived under the water to swim away.
Muskats (Ondatra zibethicus) are medium-sized semi-aquatic rodents native to North America. They are the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae, which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings.
Although muskrats are referred to as "rats" in a general sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle, that eat a wide range of foods—an excellent survival strategy—they are not, however, so-called "true rats," that is, members of the genus Rattus.