Muskrats, such as this neighbor transporting a water lily breakfast, are powerful swimmers with webbed hind feet and side-swishing flattened tails; they even can swim backwards and hold their breath up to 20 minutes.


They once were hunted widely for their soft fur and purported rabbit-like taste. (Our old edition of Joy of Cooking says that, to serve two people, “Skin and remove all fat from hams of 6 muskrats … sauté until golden … [s]erve with Creamed Celery.” It doesn’t mention how to get the muskrats.) Muskrats get their name from the strong scent that they use to mark their territory and their rat-like looks. (Brooklin, Maine)