“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cambridge in Dorchester County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Muskrat and Nutria

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Muskrat and Nutria Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, October 28, 2014
1. Muskrat and Nutria Marker
A Tail of Two Rodents
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to the muskrat and, until recently, the nutria, both members of the rodent family. The muskrat is native to the area while the nutria was introduced from South America in the 1940s to expand the fur industry. Larger and more aggressive, the nutria out-competed the muskrat for resources.

Water Loving Rodent
Historically, the muskrat has played an important role in the marsh. By grazing on vegetation, it helped to maintain open areas, providing habitat for waterbirds and other wildlife. Its population is kept in check by predators.

Muskrat *name comes from the musk like odor it emits *an excellent swimmer *uses its vertically flattened tail to steer through the water *folds of skin seal off its inner ear when underwater *typically weighs no more than 2 ½ pounds *eats roots, stems, and shoots of cattails and sedges *uses marsh plants to build its dome-shaped lodge *serves as prey for larger mammals

Marsh Nuisance
Originally valued for its fur, the nutria is now considered a pest. Over time, its population exploded due to increasingly milder winters, less demand for pelts, and a lack of natural predators. After destroying several thousand acres of Blackwater River marsh, large numbers of nutria were eradicated from the

Muskrat and Nutria Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, October 28, 2014
2. Muskrat and Nutria Marker
refuge. Nutria *consumes nearly its weight each day! *has destructive eating and burrowing habits *prolific breeder *resembles a beaver but with a rat-like tail *can weigh up to 20 pounds *dines primarily on the roots of marsh vegetation *no natural predators in Maryland * burrows in banks, under roads, and into muskrat lodges.

In 2002, a partnership of federal, state, and private organizations began a pilot project to eradicate the nutria. With the help of professional wildlife specialists, a systematic trapping and hunting program essentially eliminated the species from Blackwater NWR by 2006. The same techniques are being used today, with the goal of eradicating nutria populations across the Delmarva peninsula by 2014.
Location. 38° 26.25′ N, 76° 5.55′ W. Marker is in Cambridge, Maryland, in Dorchester County. Marker is on Observation Acess Road. Click for map. The marker is one of three located in the kiosk. It is the one on the far right. Marker is in this post office area: Cambridge MD 21613, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem (here, next to this marker); The American Bald Eagle (here, next to this marker); Pool One at Wildlife Drive (approx. 0.4 miles away); Delmarva Peninsula Fox Squirrel (approx. 0.9 miles away); Why Use Native Plants? (approx. 1.6 miles away); Welcome to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (approx. 1.6 miles away); a different marker also named Welcome to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (approx. 1.6 miles away); Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge-Taking Refuge from Slavery (approx. 1.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Cambridge.
Categories. AnimalsEnvironment

Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 185 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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