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Pets of the Month BRUISER


WITH A SMILE like this, who wouldn’t fall in love with me? I’m Bruiser, and I’m a handsome doggie with a little bit of everything in me. Guess that makes me a designer dog. I know I have my designs on you! I would make someone happy who wants a companion without all the fuss. I can be a little finicky about other dogs, so it’s ok with me if I don’t share you with one. I’m shy until you get to know me, and sometimes unsure in new places; so you’ll have to be patient with me. I’m full grown at 6 years old (2/24/11) and 55 pounds. I’m neutered, microchipped, up to date on my shots and healthy. I’m ready to be your loyal friend. Please come meet me!


RODDI


MY NAME IS Roddi, and I love people. I seriously want one special person of my own to be my sidekick. We would be like peas and carrots. I am a handsome, clean, short haired cat which means less fuss and muss. This is a good thing, because your lap will be my new favorite spot. I get along famously with both cats and dogs. I love to play, and I am an indoors only cat. I am content with a nice window seat and CNN to keep up with world events. I was born 6/15/15, so I’m as big as I’m going to get. I also have been neutered, vaccinated and use the litter box like an old pro. If you hurry, you can have me home by Saint Patrick’s Day. •


Please leave a message at 864-391-2349 or email us at HSMC2000@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more about our available dogs and cats.


MUSKRATS Surprising Neighbors We Ignore


by LEE BELANGER Master Naturalist


MUSKRATS MAY BE the most common aquatic mammal we never notice. They are most active at night and spend a good bit of time in and under water. Often mistaken for beavers, they live in streams and lakes including Thurmond Lake. While beavers weigh up to 60 pounds, muskrats weigh only 2 to 4 pounds. A muskrat’s tail is long, scaly and flat vertically to aid in swimming. Only its hind feet have webs unlike a beaver that has four webbed feet.


The name muskrat comes from the animal’s musk (scent) glands under its rat-like tail, but it is not a true rat. Like all rodents, its large front teeth grow throughout its life.


Muskrats’ thick, soft, glossy brown fur is waterproof. Its long-clawed front feet help dig up plant roots and can grasp objects. Unique valves on their lips allow them to eat underwater and ear flaps close ears while swimming. Next time you walk along a lakeshore, look for a thin line drawn in dirt. This could be from a muskrat dragging its tail. Muskrats live in most aquatic areas throughout the United States except Florida. Biologists theorize alligators and other predators prevent them from surviving there. Unlike many other aquatic animals, muskrats can live in shallow marshes and even drainage ditches. They prefer to build burrows along banks and even dig into Styrofoam floats under docks giving dock owners heartburn. Burrow entrances are underwater with the living area above water level. Muskrats also build “Push-ups,” piles of vegetation used as homes and nurseries if stream banks are unavailable.


Muskrats are primarily vegetarians, eating roots, tubers and water lilies


as well as corn, carrots, and apples. Occasionally they eat clams, snails, frogs, and fish. Like most rodents, they have as many as 4-5 litters a year with up to seven offspring per litter. They have few defenses and provide meals for raccoons, hawks, snakes, turtles, and fish. Their populations experience large swings, much like lemmings; and when populations are large, they can die from stress. Diseases such as giardia, rabies, intestinal worms, and ticks also take their toll; but like so many other animals, habitat loss is their biggest threat. As people fill in wetlands, muskrats move into home and farm ponds becoming a nuisance, an unintended consequence of development.


These often-ignored creatures have managed to adapt to population growth, polluted water, and to use their unique physical characteristics to survive. Sometimes being a plain Jane is a benefit.


What is on your mind? E-mail Lee at Lungwort@aol.com


Fun Fact: Muskrats can stay underwater for 17 minutes because they are not as sensitive to carbon dioxide build up as most mammals.


SavannahShorelines.com • March 2017 • 25


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