Beavers are the second largest rodent in the world, second only to the capybara. There are two subspecies, the Eurasian beaver and the American beaver. You will probably know the beaver by their distinctive tail. It is furless and flat. You might know that they use it as a rudder when they are swimming and to stabilize themselves when they are standing on their two back legs. Surprisingly, it can also be used to store fat which gets the beaver through times which are bad for finding food. Contrary to popular belief, though, they do not use their tails to carry mud to build dams or lodges, and they don’t pack down mud with them either.
Beavers actually build two distinct types of structures: dams and lodges. Dams are exactly what they sound like, wide contructs across streams and rivers to alter the flow. Beaver dams create a high enough water level to make building a lodge possible. Lodges are their homes and are built with access to the lodge on the shore. The lodge itself is in the shape of a large cone, with a hole on the top for ventilation. During freezing temperatures, steam from the beavers’ breathing comes out through this hole, making it look like a chimney. Beavers enter and exit the lodge through a hidden entrance on the bank of the river. This has to be built below the freezing point of the water so that they can live under the ice through the winter. By doing this, they make sure of their safety from predators like bears and wolves during the long cold winter months. The mud on the roof of the lodge is packed so hard that nobody can claw through it. They eat store twigs and plants from their lodge to get them through the season and allow them to stay safe and warm.
Beavers are herbivores and they eat a lot of aquatic plants as well as soft branches and twigs. To get to their preferred food though, the soft cambium layer of wood from a tree, they have to chew right through the extremely tough outer layer of bark. Beavers have incredibly powerful jaws and teeth which enable them to break through the outer bark and feast on the inner layer.
Beavers are very social animals. They communicate with each other often with a large variety of sounds. They mate for life and interesting to note, they remain children longer than any other rodent, typically 2 to 3 years. They live in small and very cooperative family groups, usually of around 6 to 12 adults and a couple of babies. A group of beavers is called a colony and it’s not hard to imagine why. Beavers frequently have to pioneer new homes for themselves and are incredibly resourceful. Because of the way beavers use their hands to carry and hold, Native Americans referred to them as “little people”.
I hope you found this interesting. If you have a beaver fact to add or a question or comment to make, please feel free to head to the comments down below. We post a new blog every Tuesday and Friday so, until next time, goodbye!
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