We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting Canada to take a look at the busy beaver. This furry rodent isn’t only fascinating, it has been used as Canada’s national symbol for over 300 years.
The Beaver Body
Beavers can range in size, but usually grow up to 3 feet (.9 m) in body length with another foot (30 cm) for its tail. It weighs in at a whooping 35-66 pounds (16-30kg) and is covered in a thick brown fur with a soft grey undercoat.
The flat black, scaly tail of the beaver serves two purposes – it acts like a boat rudder, steering the beaver through the water and gives the animal balance on land while it moves tree branches. The beaver also has two large front buck teeth that stick so it can cut and chew wood underwater. The back feet of this animal also have webbed toes which help make it a powerful swimmer.
Wild World Fact…the front teeth of the beaver never stop growing. Chewing on branches keeps the teeth trim.
Built Beaver Tough!
Beavers are nature’s builders. They spend most of their time “cutting” down small trees and forming them into a dome-shaped lodge or dam. The beaver also uses mud to help insulate his home and the only entrance way is through an underwater passage. The location of the beaver’s lodge can usually be found in the middle of a pond where it’s safe from predators. No pond available? The beaver will create his own by building a dam in a narrow stream. Once his structure is big enough the water is blocked and will build up creating a pond where a forest or field use to be.
Wild World Fact…the world’s biggest beaver dam is in Alberta, Canada, is 850 meters (2788 feet) long and can be seen from space!
Even though beavers are one of the largest rodents they are strictly herbivores. They eat leaves, bark, twigs, aquatic plants and roots. The beavers teeth and jaws are extremely powerful, so eating these tough entrees are no problem for him.
Wild World Fact…beavers will move on once food becomes scarce
For more information on the clever beaver, check out your local library, the Internet, a wildlife preserve or a national park.