noun \ˈməsk-ˌrat\

: a North American animal that lives in or near water

plural muskrat or muskrats

Full Definition of MUSKRAT

:  an aquatic rodent (Ondatra zibethica) of the United States and Canada with a long scaly laterally compressed tail, webbed hind feet, and dark glossy brown fur; also :  its fur or pelt

Illustration of MUSKRAT

Origin of MUSKRAT

probably by folk etymology from a word of Algonquian origin; akin to Massachusett musquash muskrat
First Known Use: 1607


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethica).—John H. Gerard

Either of two semiaquatic, brown rodent species (family Cricetidae) native to marshes, shallow lakes, and streams of North America and introduced into Europe. The compact, heavy-bodied muskrat, or musquash (Ondatra zibethica), is about 12 in. (30 cm) long, not including the long, scaly, flat tail. The partially webbed hind feet have a stiff, bristly fringe. Anal sacs produce a musky secretion. The commercially valuable fur consists of long, stiff, glossy guard hairs overlying a dense, soft underfur. Muskrats live in either a burrow dug into the bank or a reed-and-rush mound built in the water. They eat sedges, reeds, roots, and an occasional aquatic animal. The round-tailed muskrat, or Florida water rat (Neofiber alleni), is smaller.


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