Posts Tagged ‘muskrats’

by , Keeper
I have been working at the museum since 2003, and I feel fortunate to have a job where I can start my day with amazing animals surrounding me. I enjoy camping, hiking and rock climbing in my spare time when the weather is nice.
I work Tuesday through Saturday and spend a lot of time behind the scenes, but you might find me at a public program or feeding the farmyard animals in the afternoon.

Pumpkin enrichment

January 16th, 2013

In the fall we receive A LOT of donated pumpkins that are used in the animal department. Some animals eat them, some animals play with them, and some animals don’t really do anything with them.

Our muskrats really like to eat pumpkin, so we give it to them sometimes as enrichment or as a substitute for another vegetable in their daily diet. In an effort to use some of the many pumpkins that we had, I decided to do both.

We usually only give the muskrats pieces of pumpkin at a time, so I had to substitute several of their vegetables for one day in order to give them an entire pumpkin. I decided to clean it out and put their daily food inside.

I thought it would be best to only put half their food inside the pumpkin so that they wouldn’t fight over the pumpkin once they realized their food was inside.

So I placed the pumpkin, lid on, in the exhibit and scattered the remaining food for them to find (we do that daily.)

I thought they would probably go directly to the pumpkin to check it out, but they actually seemed  a bit apprehensive about it.

After several minutes of keeping their distance from the pumpkin and eating the scattered food around the exhibit, they started to creep up to it to check it out but would then run away.

I finally decided to take the lid off the pumpkin in an effort to help them realize that this big round orange thing was something good and yummy. At that point I had to go clean the rest of the exhibits, so I left them to continue checking it out. When I came back about 30 minutes later, I found this…

Yep, that’s right, the muskrats had dragged the pumpkin into their pool. It was floating upside down, waterlogged but surprisingly with most of the original food still in it. I drained out the water and placed it back on the floor of the exhibit with the rest of their diet still in it.

When I came back later I found the pumpkin moved back to the water’s edge, but this time there was a big chunk eaten from it.

Then I looked over at their den area and saw that they had taken the top of the pumpkin and put it at the window for everyone to see, along with some of their other veggies. They do this with their diet a lot, and it makes it pretty convenient for the visitors to get a look at all their food. I enjoyed putting this enrichment togther for them, and it was neat to see what they did with it throughout the day!

 

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  1. ….think this could be part of the 2013 New Year’s Resolution list….the Museum’s awesome keepers will help you overcome your fears of unusual veggies.

    Posted by dj

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by , Keeper
I have been working at the museum since 2003, and I feel fortunate to have a job where I can start my day with amazing animals surrounding me. I enjoy camping, hiking and rock climbing in my spare time when the weather is nice.
I work Tuesday through Saturday and spend a lot of time behind the scenes, but you might find me at a public program or feeding the farmyard animals in the afternoon.

QuikPost: hoarders

April 19th, 2012
YouTube Preview Image

The last couple of days we have been watching our muskrats closely because we were concerned one of them may have been acting a bit lethargic. So you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to see them both running around the exhibit early this morning!

Most of our visitors that come regularly usually only see our muskrats sleeping in their wooden house. That’s because they tend to be most active in the morning (at least for the time in which we are here), after they have been fed by the keepers. Our muskrats aren’t too keen on getting close to the keepers, so they wait until we leave the exhibit and then come out to see what kind of food they have been given for the day. Then they get busy eating and hoarding! Yes, that’s right, our muskrats will stock pile their food in their wooden house. Which is actually quite smart of them, because it means if they wake up during the day and are hungry, they have their meal right next to them instead of having to go out into the exhibit and bring it back.

I managed to get some of the hoarding on video, and it’s quite cute! Clearly, one of the muskrats likes to collect the food in the house, while the other muskrat has a specific spot at the edge of their pool where he enjoys eating.

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Muskrat video

January 6th, 2012

Here’s the video I said I would share  from Christmas of the muskrats eating. Enjoy.

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  1. Very cool

    Posted by Katy

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by , Keeper
Although a native tarheel, I came to the museum from Texas, where I taught Biology courses at a small college. In graduate school I studied the behavior and ecology of marine organisms (mostly crabs, lobsters and sea turtles).
You can find me in the Animal Department Monday-Thursday. Fridays I work for the Department of Innovation and Learning all day.

Big word of the Month: Gestation

May 1st, 2008

Spring is the time that many species give birth. Gestation is the period of time that a developing offspring is carried inside the mother. Biologists usually reserve this term for mammals but it is used more loosely in common speech. Below I provide some examples of gestational periods for some of the animals at the museum. Keep in mind that exact times may vary by several days depending on the condition of the mother and environmental changes.

Explore the Wild

  • Black bear 210 days
  • Red wolf 60 days
  • Ringtail Lemur 136 days

Farmyard

  • Donkey 365 days
  • Pig 112 days
  • Rabbit 32 days
  • Cattle 285 days

Carolina Wildlife

  • Muskrat 30 days
  • Opossum 12 days

You can’t directly compare gestation in mammals and birds since birds have internal fertilization but most development occurs externally in the egg. Nevertheless, here are some incubation times for some birds you might see at the museum:

  • Turkey 28 days
  • Chicken 21 days
  • Duck 26 days
  • Barred owl 30 days

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  1. Random question but can you tell me what the same of the bird that is in the butterfly house is?it is black, with red eye ring, red lower beak and red legs/feet. has some white up top right under a plume (?)thanks!

    Posted by mdhillison
  2. According to your description it sounds like the wood partridge. Thanks to Butterflyhouse staff for consulting.

    Posted by Larry
  3. Great photo of the wolf and pup!

    Posted by Troy Livingston

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