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any of 18 species of amphibious carnivorous rodents. They exhibit many adaptations associated with hunting in water for food and burrowing along streams, rivers, and lakes. The eyes are small, the nostrils can be closed to keep water out, and the external portion of the ears is either small and furry or absent. Highly sensitive whiskers are abundant on the fleshy blunt muzzle. The long thick fur is gray or brown, dense and woolly, and water-repellent. The tail is usually densely haired, and in some species the hairs form a keel along the underside. The rats' long, wide hindfeet are fringed with stiff hairs and have bald soles with conspicuous webbing between the digits