These little guys–muskrats—are both a headache and are essential to productive Giant garter snake habitat. This photo was just taken on the Conservancy’s flagship BKS preserve.
I say “headache” because they are constantly creating burrows in water control structures that sometimes “blow out” and de-water an entire marsh or wetland. This renders that aquatic habitat as “non-functional” for its intended us. That is, as habitat for Giant garter snakes and Pacific pond turtles. Plus it costs money to repair. On the other hand, their work is essential to the success of the habitat in that the burrows they create or expand provide habitat for the over-wintering Giant garter snake.
This is where this reptile “brumates,” or what mammals like bears does, but in that case, the biologists call it “hibernate.” In any case, it’s a fact of nature, and we have to live with it. The little guys (which the Spanish language field workers call “rata de agua”) are part of the ecosystem, and are here to stay.