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Wild Animals/Mystery rodent babies - muskrat?


Hello. First of all, I'm very sorry but I don't have a photo, so I'll try to describe carefully.  I live in the Appalachian Mountains in Western Maryland, and muskrats share my property.I have an open drain (unfortunately--it's an old house), and one day I found two dead rodent infants in my bathtub on the main floor. They had to crawl up a long pipe to get there. There were still very small (1.5 inches, if that, nose to tail) and hairless. They had pointy noses and long, webbed feet in the back, as well as a tail that looked like a rat's but was shorter--about half the size of a rat's tail. Muskrats seemed to have a round nose, so I'm wondering what else they could possibly have been. I also have a field vole family living in the house right now--any ideas on enticing them outside?  I think I know where they got in but don't want to seal it until they leave.  Thanks!

Dear Mary

If they had webbed feet, they were likely muskrat babies.  Poor little things!  

If you have field voles nursing babies inside, then the most humane thing to do would be to wait until the babies are weaned, and then use a live trap to capture the family and relocate them to an area that has a lot of brush and places to hide.

Thank you for being so kind!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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