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Muskrats are rodents that live in freshwater and saltwater marshes, lakes, ponds, and streams. Muskrats often build dome-shaped houses in marshes. These houses, made of plants, protect the muskrat from predators, since the only entrance is underwater. Some muskrats live in burrows on the water banks. Muskrats are excellent swimmers but are slow on land.

Muskrats are native to North America, but have been brought to Europe and Asia, where they now live in the wild. Muskrats got their name because they have musk glands that produce a strong scent.

Anatomy: Muskrats are about 12 inches (30 cm) long. They weigh roughly 2 to 4 pounds (1 to 2 kg). Muskrats are covered with thick, insulating brown fur. They paddle in the water with their partly-webbed hind feet and steer with their scaly tail.

Diet: Muskrats eat water plants and shellfish.

Predators: Muskrats are hunted by many animals, including foxes and raccoons. Muskrats cannot move very quickly on land, so their best defense is to retreat into the water or into their burrow or house.

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