Steve White’s Animaux
1999

So I spied this dead rat being pushed by a water snake down a drainage ditch in the otherwise sterile light industrial park wherein I am employed. Turns out the rat and snake together form a Muskrat. A single creature.

Known as Mushrat in the Okeefenokee Swamp by the other inhabitants of the swamp, the Muskrat’s name is said to derive from the French le rat musqué.

It is an overgrown field-mouse, not a rat. Likewise, it is less closely related to the beaver and the otter, although it is like them in its aquaticness. aquaticity.

This, you must know. Have you ever seen a beaver with its mouth closed, with its big yellow teeth hidden? Well, the deal is, their mouths were closed, by and large. The beaver’s incisors, like those of the Muskrat, grow through the upper and lower lips. The teeth are outside when the lips are sealed. This allows both creatures to cut vegetation under water without drowning!

Beat that!

Here are some >materials on this fancy critter, but there’s lots of info about the Muskrat on the web, including how to feed, trap, skin, prepare, cook, and eat it.


I have a feeder, which mostly attracts House Finches and Chickadees. I also see Juncos ("Oregon" variety) nibbling seeds on the ground.

The Ravenna park, just down the street from my apartment, hosts lots of birds you don’t often see in the city, such as the Rufous-sided Towhee and Wrens