Muskrats are a North American rodent that spend most of their time in the water. They are great swimmers and use their long tail to propel themselves through the water. Their hind feet are also partially webbed. I have seen Muskrats on occasion at Fort Whyte Alive, but saw 3 the last time I was there a couple of days ago. One provided me with plenty of photo opportunities as he was busy eating something in the water and was not bothered at all by my presence. I did get a quick picture of one of the other 2, but only because I already had my camera open and zoomed when I saw him swimming.
I had to correct a daycare worker when she was telling the children that they were looking at a beaver. There is a slight resemblance (if you don’t see the tail), but the size difference between the 2 should be enough to tell them apart. Muskrats are about 12 inches long plus a long skinny tail of about the same length whereas Beavers are about 3x that body length plus a flat tail about 1/3 the length of the Beaver.
Apparently Muskrats have been introduced and are thriving in Europe as well as North America at this time.
I got a little carried away with pictures of this first one, since they don’t usually stay still long enough for any pictures at all. You can see larger versions of these pictures by clicking on one and scrolling through the rest if you like.
Later, I was taking pictures of the Painted Turtles when, out of the corner of my eye I saw another Muskrat swimming so I quickly panned over to get a picture of this one before he disappeared into the reeds. He had something in his mouth and it may be that he caught himself a fish as that is what it looks like.