Do woodchucks swim? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Happy Spring to you all! We have a critter in our pond that looks like a woodchuck from what I've seen, but he is swimming around and I didn't think woodchucks swam. He's brown, 1-2'long, has a long skinny dark tail. I'm in south-central Michigan. We had a pair of Mallards yesterday and early today, and also yesterday we had a pair of Hooded Mergansers, which I wish would have stayed. I have a feeling this hairy guy ran them off. After watching the ducks, I decided to get some this spring, but I think I need to get rid of this guy and 2 snappers that I saw last year, if they are still here. (Man, the turtles are scarey looking!!)Thanks for your help...Amy

-- Amy (, March 10, 2002


I'm sure woodchucks can swim, but doubt they want to. Sounds like a muskrat to me.

-- melina b. (, March 10, 2002.

Woodchucks don't have a long skinny tail. I would say you have a muskrat and if your pond has a dike or dam you need to get rid of him because he could dig through it and cause you lots of trouble.

-- Mike in WNY (, March 10, 2002.

Not only do they swim, they will actually fly, if you chase them with a shotgun!!!!! Okay, Okay, I know I am no help, just trying to inject a little levity, Sorry!!

-- Stephen Coffman (, March 10, 2002.

thr muskrat wont eat your ducks,, its a vegatarian, and the pelt is worth a few bucks also. The snappers may be a problem.

-- Stan (, March 10, 2002.

Hi Amy, A Muskrat is only about 20 " long(including tail), not even as big as a large house cat, and it's tail is flattened from side to side. The Beaver is 3 to 4 feet long and I know you would recognize one. The imported Nutria(which I do not know if they are in your area)does have a round, scaley tail)and is midway between the size of the Muskrat and Beaver(weighing about 25 lbs. as an adult and 18 to 24 " long. )They also have teeth of red ivory. Don't know if this will help or not, a call to your Fish & Wildlife people might give you more info. LQ.

-- Little Quacker (, March 10, 2002.

It may be an Otter.

-- Gary (, March 10, 2002.

Lochness monster?

-- Charleen in WNY (, March 10, 2002.

Ducklunch monster?

-- mitch hearn (, March 10, 2002.

My vote is muskrat as well. Otter is an outside chance, but unlikely if the tail is long and skinny, theirs is conical and thicker.

How large your pond is or isn't may have more to do with whether Mergansers will stay -- mallards are more likely in pot holes on farms and such, the Mergansers seem to require more peace and quiet.

The snapping turtles are likely to be more detrimental to any baby ducks than an old muskrat is -- as noted, muskrats are vegetarians, but snapping turtles love baby ducks.

I'd forget about getting rich on a muskrat pelt. My grandfather ran a trap line for decades and there wasn't a single year that he got anything near the amount of money the fur buyers advertised. Most the time it was a dollar or two, and no fur buyer is going to make the trip for one pelt.

-- julie f. (, March 10, 2002.

Definitely sounds like a muskrat. Lots of fighting going on right now in the main ponds and the defeated males migrate to other parts in search of a fresh area. Amount of available vegetation will determine if he stays or not. For certain, they are no threat to any ducks. As for the hooded mergansers, they are fish eaters as well as being tree nesters. To keep them around, you'd need to set up a nesting box as you would for wood ducks. In fact, mergansers have been known to lay eggs in a wood ducks nests and v.v.

-- Martin Longseth (, March 10, 2002.

And the winner's a muskrat! I had thought about that, but I have lived in this area all my life (a lonnngg time :-))and had never seen one, so I thought they weren't around here. Now that I know it's not a woodchuck and won't really hurt anything, I've kind of taken to him! I am going to try to find someone to trap and re-locate him since I don't know of anywhere to do that without making him someone else's problem. I'm hoping the professionals have places for the critters they catch. When do snappers come out of hibernation? I read that they eat muskrats! Can't do that to "Sam", my daughter would never forgive me! Our pond is about 1/4 acre, and very close to our house. We have a walkout that overlooks it. Actually, if I just went out there a couple times a day, he'd probably hi-tail it out of here. Mallards are back, Mergansers are gone, I'm afraid, but I'm not surprised, they wouldn't last past the first run of the lawn tractor anyway, just as well they don't nest here. This is NOT a quiet pond! Thanks again for all your help and humor! By the way, a huge flock of robins just descended on us--spring is here for sure! They don't care about the 60+mph winds and rain/snow we had yesterday. That's what made me decide on ducks instead of chickens this year. Those ducks didn't care about the weather at all, hardy little things. They were having a great time diving for minnows! Take care, Amy

-- Amy (, March 10, 2002.

If in fact you have muskrat(s) in your pond, you'd be wise to dispense with them as quickly as possible. We've had a spring-fed pond that's never went dry, but it's close this year. We got a pair of muskrats in it last year and they ruined the dam before I realized I had a problem. They aren't here now, but we don't have a good pond anymore, either. Not until I can pay someone several hundred dollars to come repair the dam and clean out the pond.

Anyway, good luck.

-- Phil in KS (, March 10, 2002.

Woodchucks do swim straight from one point to the other then they lay on the bank gasping for air with a "I can't beleive I made it look on their face"..... I don't know what was on the other side of the lake that scared the one I saw? His shadow?

-- Sheryl (, March 10, 2002.

Although the muskrat won't harm the ducks, if you have any water plants that you value in your pond they will probably disappear rapidly. We had a muskrat wipe out all the plants we put in one pond in about a week.

-- Sheryl in ME (, March 12, 2002.

Muskrat, undoubtedly! But may I add that both muskrats and woodchucks are quite tasty!

-- Brad (, March 12, 2002.

When I was a kid we used to have chickens vanish, when they went to the creek for a drink. Problem, was big snapper. It would lie in wait in the mud and nail the chicken, dragging it out to deeper water,drowning to eat in its own sweet time.I just sat quiet one afternoon with a rifle till it showed it's head. It was huge, and darn good eating as well. You could also use some light steel cable, about the size of yarn, put a HEAVY large hook on, secure it down REAL good and bait it with dead catfish, or spoiled chicken. Let it sit overnight and have turtle for lunch the next day! Don't get mad get even!

-- Jack C (, March 15, 2002.

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