Critter Corner -Beaver
DID YOU KNOW:
is the largest rodent in North America and can grow to a length
of four and a half feet. The eyes of a beaver are protected by
a special covering, called a nictitating membrane, that allows
the beaver to see extremely well in the water (like a built-in
scuba mask). Beavers can also close their noses and ears when
they are busy working underwater.
is mainly bark and cambium (the soft growing tissue under the
bark of plants); they prefer willow shoots, but they enjoy
maple, aspen, poplar, beech and alder. They also munch on water
plants, buds and roots.
have litters of 3 to 4 young in April, May or June. At birth,
baby beavers are covered with fur, their eyes are open and their
teeth are visible. They can already swim at this time but will
not leave the safety of the den for a month. Beaver parents
care for and protect their young for about two years and then
the young adult beavers leave on their own to start their own
build elaborate homes called lodges. that look like islands in
the middle of a body of water. It’s made of sticks, grass and
moss. The beavers constantly repair the dome, adding material
and plastering the whole lodge with mud. Entrances are
underwater; the beaver has to dive under water to get into his
alarmed a beaver will give a loud slap repeatedly on the water
with its broad tail. If cornered a beaver may use its enormous
incisors to deliver a powerful bite but its first instinct is to
escape from any threat by a water route.
though wild beavers don’t eat yams, the beavers
rehabilitated by Friends of Lakeside Volunteers love yams –
as you can tell from this picture
beaver has furry lips that close BEHIND the large incisor
teeth; this is a special adaptation for eating underwater!
have webbed feet to help them swim better. Their tails act
largest beaver ever found in Missouri weighed 115 lbs.
are usually nocturnal but will work during the daytime in
the fall when food is gathered in preparation for winter.
Beavers build dams to make sure that the water around
houses is deep enough. The dams help to maintain wetlands,
prevent erosion and stop the flow of floodwaters. As
beaver ponds get bigger because the dams hold in water, pond
weeds and water lilies start to grow. When beavers leave
their homes, the dams decay and the ponds turn into meadows.
To learn more about
(Photo of beaver eating yams by Deb Hilburn;
diagram of beaver lodge from Saskatchewan Schools Information
Project; all other photos from US Fish and Wildlife Agency)