muskrat sighting

One day we were standing on our dock waving to our neighbors. They were making their way across the cove on their pontoon to visit. All of a sudden something – something BIG – splashed into the water near us. We jumped, then looked around for a fish or turtle. We saw nothing.

Our neighbors, who have had a place at the lake for years and years, laughed as they pulled up. “We saw you jump,” they said. “Must’ve been a muskrat.”

A muskrat, we thought? Eeek! “Do they bite?” we asked.

They chuckled and said, “Not that we know of. You hardly ever see them. They don’t like to be around people, so if you ever do see one, it won’t be for long.”

Sure enough, throughout the spring and summer, we never saw one. We kept finding traces of their presence. Fish bones, fish scales, droppings, but no muskrat sightings. And that was OK with us.

One week we stayed at the lake for several days, so we had time for afternoon boat rides that drifted into the twilight. As we climbed the boathouse steps and onto the gangway in the dusk one afternoon, we noticed something to our left.  We froze and watched. It was a muskrat, swimming though the water.

Either the animal didn’t see us or didn’t care. It swam leisurely right under where we stood, then continued on over to our right. It cut a smooth line through the water with a perfect V-shaped wake behind. Its head was up and we could barely see the shape of its tail beneath the water.  This didn’t take long, but it seemed to get dimmer every second, so we could barely see it as it reached the bank. It ducked effortlessly under some low-hanging branches, presumably into its concealed burrow. And that was that.

We have never seen another one and we probably never will. But it was a special gift that evening to be witness to what goes on frequently when humans are not usually around.

9 thoughts on “muskrat sighting

  1. djts says:

    I love witnessing those goings on. Yesterday we did that with a family of deer in our yard as they calmly grazed within a few feet of us on the other side of the window.
    Lovely descriptions of the muskrat moving in the water.

  2. jee young says:

    I like how you captured your muskrat sighting through this slice! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one in person.

  3. elsie says:

    Spotting glimpses of nature always leaves me in awe. What a memory to have of a creature living so close but so hidden. Thanks for sharing this moment of time.

  4. Julie says:

    Ditto to Elsie’s comment. I can never get enough chance encounters with wildlife.

  5. Tara says:

    How fascinating that the muskrat sort of shadowed your family, you were aware of its presence and yet it almost waited a bit to reveal itself to you. I love the way you described it swimming across the lake – so serene.

  6. Judy C. says:

    It’s amazing how God created these creatures and made them so graceful and illusive. Thanks for sharing your spotting.

  7. Jama says:

    How peaceful!

  8. pamelahodges says:

    We were standing on our dock
    We jumped
    We saw nothing.
    We thought
    We kept finding traces of their presence
    we noticed something to our left.
    We froze and watched
    We have never seen another one
    We probably never will
    I following all of the “we writing” in your story. Like an undercurrent of togetherness in the story of the muskrat. Hidden like the animal in the water,

  9. Thanks for your close reading. Sometimes its considered poor form to reuse words like this. Thank you for seeing the value in it. (Of course it wasn’t intentional, but now that you mention it….)

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