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The muskrat is a very large rodent (up to two feet long), and sometimes mistaken for a beaver. The two species look similar except for the tail: that of a muskrat is flattened vertically to help it steer in the water. The muskrat is actually the largest member of the North American “New World” mice. Muskrats live in aquatic habitats and are excellent swimmers, staying beneath the water’s surface for up to15 minutes. In addition, they have a waterproof undercoat that sits above an insulating layer of air, so water never touches the skin. As an added benefit, the layer of air keeps the animal buoyant. They are mostly herbivores, but will also eat mollusks and crayfish. Muskrats build multi-room lodges out of vegetation and mud, allowing them to swim in the water year-round. Unrelated individuals can share a lodge, but families will add rooms to the lodge so that they have their own space. As with smaller rodents, they breed throughout the year with females having about three litters per year. If a mother dies, the father will take over parenting duties until the young are able to live on their own.