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Thread: muskrat curiosity... canibals??

  1. #1
    Member joefish00000's Avatar
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    Default muskrat curiosity... canibals??

    hello guys,
    i was out trapping muskrats recently and have observed some rather intersting things...
    i have found a gem of a spot. its a slough bellow a beaver dam, and it is open water and flowing! i have caught 20 rats in 7 days and have had about 95% on my sets.. so heres the thing, this spot is rather small, that is why i only have 3 sets in the particular slough. BUT i have had amazing catch rates.. now here are some of the odd things i have observed..
    1# every muskrat i have caught, i have seen what i assume are "lice" on the fur. No im not just parinoid and freaking out about a spec of snow. snow dosnt crawl around! lol
    2#this is by far the most shocking abservation, i have witnessed muskrat CANIBALISM! let me explain. I when i checked one of my sets in a rat run i saw instantly that i had a rat. then i looked closer and noticed that that rats guts were handing out! so naturaly i assumed mink was the culprate. btw i have seen 0 mink sign in this spot.. so i proceed to take the rat out of the 110 and it is obvious that somthimng had chewwd and appeared to be eating him. then i glance downstream and see something shoot down the slough. i didnt get a good look at it so i though it was possibly a mink.. so as an experiment, i took the chewed up rat and shoved it in a hole in the bank, with the idea that the culprate would come back and i could figure this out. so i continue down stream and check the other sets which all had rats in them.
    on my way back i aproached the hole in the bank where i stuffed the rat. i could nt beleive what i saw! I saw a MUSKRAT eating the muskrat i put in the bank! i was puzzed and really in shock..

    so my reason for this thread is to try and gain some understanding from any of you more knowlageble trappers out there about what kind of situation i am dealing with.. obviously there are way more rats in this spot then i expected.
    is lice a sign of "overpopulation" or and abundanmce of rats? i have never previously seen lice in muskrat before this spot.
    and please can some one explain the muskrat canabalism thing.. i didnt know they would eat there own kind??

    thanks!
    joe
    “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” - (Aldo Leopold)

  2. #2
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    It's common with muskrats everywhere. They'll eat one another when the population gets too high. They fight too, oftentimes leading to death, and a new snack! When the population in a given watershed is too high, food becomes scarce, so they eat one another. Muskrats rarely live beyond two yrs of age.

  3. #3
    Member joefish00000's Avatar
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    wow! i never knew that.. i knew that they were known to often eat smails and other meat sorces. I guess i better help manage that population!
    one more question,
    are muskrats known to have any type of population cycle? similar to hare?
    thanks,
    joe
    “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” - (Aldo Leopold)

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    It's common with muskrats everywhere. They'll eat one another when the population gets too high. They fight too, oftentimes leading to death, and a new snack! When the population in a given watershed is too high, food becomes scarce, so they eat one another. Muskrats rarely live beyond two yrs of age.
    And not just rats. Cannibalism is common among many insects and mammals, especially the rodents.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
    #Resist

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