Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Common Muskrat - Ondatra zibethicus
Cricetidae Members:
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Photo by: Ed Corey, Nick Flanders, Elisa Enders
Distribution In NC, it occurs essentially statewide, but is of spotty distribution in the mountains.

Ranges over nearly all of North America, south to the Gulf Coast, but absent in FL and the adjacent coastal areas of GA and SC.
Abundance Common to locally abundant in the Tidewater and other north-coastal regions of the state, south to Hyde County. Generally common elsewhere in the Coastal Plain, except rare to uncommon in the southeastern quarter. Generally fairly common to common in the Piedmont, and uncommon to very locally common in the mountains, at least at lower elevations; somewhat local in the Piedmont and mountains, as suitable habitat is not widespread in some counties. Note that the iNaturalist website contains photos for many of the state's counties, and the editors have not taken the time to update the map with "Photo" records/documentation unless the county had previously no known records (white on the map).
Seasonal Occurrence Active year-round.
Habitat Always in and around water -- fresh or brackish. Favors coastal brackish to fresh marshes; but also widespread around lake and pond margins, such as farm ponds, along streams and slow-moving rivers, and other areas of marsh and open water.
See also Habitat Account for General Waters and Shorelines
Behavior Most active at night, but at times active during the day. In marshes, they build dens, like beavers but smaller, but in many areas of the state, especially farther inland, nests are typically tunnels/burrows, such as in dikes of ponds.
Comments The range is still a bit spotty, at least in the western half of the state, though it is presumed to occur in all 100 counties. The species has adapted rather well to man, as many farm ponds have a pair of muskrats. The fairly rapid spread of the Coypu (= Nutria) into some habitats used by Muskrats does not seem to have negatively impacted Muskrats, but this might change in upcoming years, if Nutria keep spreading inland and southward.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
subspecies Ondatra zibethicus zibethicus, Ondatra zibethicus macrodon

Ondatra z. zibethicus occurs over the mountains and Piedmont, whereas O. z. macrodon is generally limited to the Coastal Plain, though the geographic separation is poorly delineated.
other_comName Muskrat
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.