Muskrat belongs to one of the oldest groups of mammals, whose members lived another 30 million years ago. Therefore, it is considered to be a living monument of nature.
This medium-sized mammal adapted to life in water. Conical head it ends a long mobile proboscis. Dense, thick dark fur does not get wet, because it is well greased. In water, muskrat feels almost like a fish: 10-12 minutes can be under water. On the surface, muskrat and rarely shows much of its life in the water or in the coastal burrows.
Muskrat refers to omnivores. The basis of his food – small animals, mainly insects and their larvae, worms and molluscs. Eat this animal and plant foods. Desman multiply throughout the year. The female usually brings 3-5 cubs.
In the past, this mammal was widespread in Europe. Unrestrained fishing has led to what is already the XIX century residence and number of muskrat dramatically reduced. Currently, it has been preserved mainly in lakes basins of the Volga, Don, Dnieper and the Urals.
Natural conditions in the floodplain of the Urals places very favorable habitat for muskrat, some reservoirs are deep enough and never frozen. They muddy bottom, well developed vegetation, rich in invertebrates. The depth of the lake off the coast reaches 1.5-2 m, in the middle – 4-5 m. The growing along the banks of trees and shrubs perfectly hide muskrat burrows.
The main reason for hunting muskrat at all times it was valuable, furry skin. When the law was passed to protect this animal, muskrat was already on the verge of extinction. Even until now scientists do not have a firm belief that this is a pretty hairy creature can survive. Who will there are only a few hundred.
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