I just learned the answer to the burning question. How do muskrats eat in winter? It is the question that is keeping you up nights, I know. While I was at the Liberty Loop of the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge today, I saw a muskrat trot across the snow and burrow into a footprint. Very smart I thought, since there is a hard crusty layer of ice on top of the snow. I walked over to peer at the dark lump and all I saw was scuffed up grass and a tail. Being vegetarian, he had burrowed into the snow to get at the grass underneath.
Then, with his tummy full, he was off. “Home Again, Home Again, Riggity Jig.” He reminded me of Ratty from Wind in the Willows.
His little snow covered den looks cozy doesn’t it.
Thinking some kids had thrown an old bicycle inner tube up in a tree, I only gave it a passing glance until my friend yelled over, “Hey. What’s that in that tree? Is it a snake?” I looked away from a promising woodpecker hole to throw a glance in the direction they were looking. Huh! The things you see when you actually look. I walked over to them to contemplate the non-inner tube. We decided it probably was a rat snake since they can climb trees and birds and eggs are some of the things they eat. It’s tail was still hanging in what appeared to be a large hole. What it was doing in a dead tree in the middle of a swamp is anybody’s guess. But it looked full and happy. Or at least satiated and not moving in the hazy sunlight.