Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You Dirty (Musk)rat

funny word of the day: muskrat

From Wikipedia:

The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semi-aquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands and is a very successful animal over a wide range of climates and habitats. It plays an important role in nature and is a resource of food and fur for humans, as well as being an introduced species in much of its present range.

The muskrat is the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae; which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings. Muskrats are called "rats" in a general sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle and an omnivorous diet. They are not, however, so-called "true rats", that is members of the genus Rattus.

The muskrat's name comes from the two scent glands which are found near its tail; they give off a strong "musky" odor which the muskrat uses to mark its territory.

Gross. I'm not a fan of anything that has "rat" in its name or resembles a rat. Even squirrels, which people think are cute, are really just tree rats (at least that's what my mom always told me growing up). The only muskrat I like is a Muppet-like character named Heddy Muskrat in the Jim Henson special "Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas," a modern-day musical fable based on The Gift of the Magi that is still one of my favorite holiday programs. Too bad my husband and I are virtually the only people who have ever seen it. I highly recommend it.

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