All About Beavers: 10 Fun Facts About The Planet’s Animal Architects
The largest rodents on the planet (after the capybara), beavers can measure over a meter in length and weigh up to sixty pounds. They build all the mass as peaceful herbivores, feeding on trees including leaves, bark, twigs and roots. They also nibble on aquatic plants like sedges.
There are two species of beaver, the American beaver (beaver canadensis) and the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). They look a lot alike and behave the same way, but they are incompatible as biological partners. They live in freshwater streams, rivers, ponds and lakes, where they often create dams and expand wetlands.
Beavers live for over 20 years. They are considered keystone species and have the dubious honor of being the animal, after man, most responsible for changing the face of the planet. Additionally, they have survived near extinction and rebounded to be in the “least concern” section of the IUCN endangered species list.
But, let’s get into some of the things that are just amazing about beavers.
Source: Nat Geo Kids/YouTube
Beavers have amazing bodies
Sure, it’s pretty cool that beavers are the second largest rodent in the world, but their bodies have made incredible adaptations to make them efficient and successful water dwellers.
- Their famous incisors keep growing throughout their lives. Chewing trees keeps them filed down, so eating for the best is also vital for dental care. These teeth are part of a massive skull, designed to be powerful for chewing hard wood. The incisors have thick, orange enamel (due to iron compounds) to add to their durability.
- Beavers are known as great swimmers, but they have the advantage of having transparent eyelids. In other words, they can swim and see with their eyes closed. The eyelids act like a pair of built-in goggles, protecting the eyes so the beavers can do their underwater business.
- Beavers, unfortunately, were famous for their fur, which played a huge role in why they were on the endangered species list. Their fur is amazing for their lifestyle. It is naturally oily, which makes it waterproof. The coat, which has longer guard hairs and an undercoat, is essential for keeping the beaver warm during the winter. They swim even when the water is freezing.
- The beaver tail is as famous as its teeth. It powerfully propels the animal as it swims at up to five miles per hour (the average human swims at around two mph), and of course that tail acts like a rudder making the beavers nimble in the water. The tail also helps the beaver balance itself when standing and sitting on solid ground.
Source: BBC Earth/YouTube
Beavers live in territorial families
Beavers have happy family communities and work together to create ideal homes and habitats where they are safe, well-fed, and social. What an idea!
- Beavers mate as monogamous pairs for life, and they live in happy families of up to ten, including this year’s offspring (kits) and those from previous years. Older kits, training for life on their own, help with household chores like maintaining dams, lodge, and territorial boundaries. Kits can sometimes stay with the family for several years.
- There are two types of beaver lodges, one formed in steep banks (usually in existing banks and ponds) and the other formed in open water, where beavers have created dams. These houses have dry areas where animals sleep and socialize. It is isolated from the terrestrial world, accessible by water, to protect the family. Meals often take place near water.
- The beavers watch over each other. The mothers are the guardians of the family and the lodge, while the fathers maintain the territory and collect food. Older siblings join parents in raising the new litter, often taking them for their first swim and helping to feed them. Beavers use their tails to slap water when in danger to warn other members of the colony.
Beavers change the world
Beavers are both loved and feared for their innate drive and ability to build dams and block streams, streams and rivers. These dams considerably modify the landscape.
- The beaver dam has caused more changes to the face of the planet than any wild animal (excluding humans and domestic livestock). They build dams to create suitable habitats. They need water to swim and the body of water protects them from predators.
- The largest beaver dam is found in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. It is over half a mile long and can be seen from space. But, more than the size of the dam structure, it is the amount of water retained that changes the landscape. Beaver dams create wetlands where the water was not. Water is important to all animals and plants, so the whole ecology of an area changes when a beaver joins the show.
- In addition, beaver ponds slow water flows, which means they reduce erosion of important topsoil and, ironically, prevent downstream flooding. The pond also helps during droughts, not only because there is a body of water, but because the water table around beaver ponds is significantly high due to water seeping in rather than rising. run out.
Beavers are animals worth getting to know. They don’t have a great history with humans, so maybe it’s time we started straightening things out. It seems, on a planet where fresh water is dwindling and the environment is suffering, beavers might have some important lessons in how to live well.
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