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What are those wetland creatures in the creeks?

What are the rodent wetland creatures that inhabit the full creeks and ditches in the valley? Muskrats? Nutria? Neither? Both?

— John H., Jacksonville

Technically, both, John, though we should clarify it's usually going to be muskrats. That's according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

"We don't have a lot of nutria, although we have had a few observations of them," says ODFW wildlife biologist Steve Niemela, adding nutria are an invasive species and can be more aggressive. "We're really hoping they won't get firmly established here."

Niemela adds his agency has also gotten reports of beavers in the areas you mention. Voles and field mice often live in areas immediately adjacent to the wetlands, but obviously not in the ditches themselves.

An easy way to tell the difference between the two is size, as nutria are significantly larger animals.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.