Muskrat and Nutria

Muskrat and Nutria (HM1I1F)

Location: Cambridge, MD 21613 Dorchester County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 26.25', W 76° 5.55'

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

A Tail of Two RodentsBlackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to the muskrat and, until recently, the nutria, both members of the rodent family. The muskrat is native to the area while the nutria was introduced from South America in the 1940s to expand the fur industry. Larger and more aggressive, the nutria out-competed the muskrat for resources.

Water Loving Rodent
Historically, the muskrat has played an important role in the marsh. By grazing on vegetation, it helped to maintain open areas, providing habitat for waterbirds and other wildlife. Its population is kept in check by predators.

Muskrat *name comes from the musk like odor it emits *an excellent swimmer *uses its vertically flattened tail to steer through the water *folds of skin seal off its inner ear when underwater *typically weighs no more than 2 ½ pounds *eats roots, stems, and shoots of cattails and sedges *uses marsh plants to build its dome-shaped lodge *serves as prey for larger mammals

Marsh Nuisance
Originally valued for its fur, the nutria is now considered a pest. Over time, its population exploded due to increasingly milder winters, less demand for pelts, and a lack of natural predators. After destroying several thousand acres of Blackwater River marsh, large numbers of nutria were eradicated from the refuge.
Nutria *consumes nearly ¼ its weight each day! *has destructive eating and burrowing habits *prolific breeder *resembles a beaver but with a rat-like tail *can weigh up to 20 pounds *dines primarily on the roots of marsh vegetation *no natural predators in Maryland * burrows in banks, under roads, and into muskrat lodges.

In 2002, a partnership of federal, state, and private organizations began a pilot project to eradicate the nutria. With the help of professional wildlife specialists, a systematic trapping and hunting program essentially eliminated the species from Blackwater NWR by 2006. The same techniques are being used today, with the goal of eradicating nutria populations across the Delmarva peninsula by 2014.

HM NumberHM1I1F
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, November 28th, 2014 at 9:04am PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 404652 N 4254923
Decimal Degrees38.43750000, -76.09250000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 26.25', W 76° 5.55'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 26' 15" N, 76° 5' 33" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)410, 443
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Observation Access Rd, Cambridge MD 21613, US
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