Return to main search page

Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus


Short description of Ondatra zibethicus, Muskrat

Muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents, related to voles and lemmings but considerably larger.  They are intermediate in size between brown rat and coypu, generally around 50 cm in length including the tail.  Their thick fur is darkish brown, slightly paler on the underside.  The tail is slender and scaly, and flattened from side to side.  The ears are small.  The lips can close behind the incisor teeth, facilitating underwater chewing.

Description of Ondatra zibethicus, Muskrat status in GB

Muskrats established several widespread centres of population in GB in the 1930s, but were eradicated by 1937.

Habitat summary: Ondatra zibethicus, Muskrat

Muskrats occur in lakes, ponds, rivers and associated marshland.

Overview table

Environment: Terrestrial and Freshwater
Species status: Non-Native
Native range: Northern America, Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Yukon
Functional type: Herbivore
Status in England: Non-Native
Status in Scotland: Non-Native
Status in Wales: Non-Native
Location of first record: ?
Date of first record: 1929

Distribution map

Map of the UK with areas shaded to show the UK distribution of Muskrat

GB Distribution from NBN Atlas

Author's name:

John Marchant

Last updated:

October 3rd 2019

We try to keep these factsheets up to date, however if you notice any issues please contact us

[You must enable JavaScript to see this email address]

Thin strip of image show tree trunk and bark