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First Evidence of Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) in the Diet of the Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)

Joseph S. Cannizzaro IV1,*, Sandra L. Koch2, and William H. Graser III3

1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53211. 2McCrone Associates, Westmont, IL 60559. 3Kane County Forest Preserve District, Geneva, IL 60134. *Corresponding author.

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 30, Issue 3 (2023): N31–N34

We discovered mammalian hair in the feces of an adult female Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding’s Turtle) in a palustrine marsh in northern Illinois on 28 April 2021. Comparison and analysis of guard-hair length, proximal shaft pattern, and cross section of the shield region revealed the hair to be that of an Ondatra zibethicus (Muskrat). This is the first recorded mammalian food item of a Blanding’s Turtle and is the second time a novel prey item has been documented in the diet of a Blanding’s Turtle at this site. In light of this discovery, we suggest a need for additional diet studies on this turtle.

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