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Direct Observation of Muskrat Feeding on Crayfish

Susan B. Adams1 and Rebecca L. Rosamond2,*

1USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Bottomland Hardwood Research, Oxford, MS 386553. 2US Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service, North Mississippi Refuges, Grenada, MS 38901.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 21, Issue 3 (2022): N43–N47

Ondatra zibethicus (Common Muskrat) are often considered herbivores; however, they also eat animal matter, especially mussels, which comprise a considerable part of their diet in some populations. Common Muskrats also feed on crayfish (Astacoidea), although such behavior is poorly documented. On 21 April 2022, we observed a Common Muskrat repeatedly catching crayfish (Cambaridae) and carrying them to its den. The site in the Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge, Quitman County, MS, consisted of a ditch with a water-control structure on the edge of a waterfowl impoundment being dewatered. The consumption of crayfish by a Common Muskrat during a time when vegetation was presumably less available has important ramifications for the management of both species.

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