There are different species of beavers which are found around the world, but the North American Beaver is a very distinct animal from those that live in Europe and Asia with a number of different characteristics. Beavers are probably most notable for their building of dams, which can often be created over rivers with a significant flow of water, but there is more than just construction skills to admire about the beaver.
Appearance And Biology
The beaver is the largest rodent that can be found in the North American continent, and can grow up to five and a half stone, and nearly three and a half feet in length. The majority of beavers will have thick layers of fur which is usually brown in color. They are also notable for having prominent from teeth which are very useful when they are gnawing wood or other items for their dams.
One aspect of the beaver’s biology which is helpful to allow them to survive in cold water is that they have a thick layer of fat beneath the skin. The beaver also has a large tail which can be used as a paddle, and the hind feet are webbed which also make them particularly well suited to swimming and diving. When the beaver is under the water it seals its nostrils and ears to prevent water from penetrating.
Behavior And Life Cycle
The most notable aspect of the beaver is its tendency to create dams which can often block large rivers. Beavers can cut large wooden logs with their teeth, and will also use rocks and other materials to build the dam. The reason for building such a construction is that it will provide a good food source, and will also provide enough water around their home to avoid freezing in the winter. The beaver will construct their ‘lodges’ from wood, and mud in areas where the water is very slow moving or still.
The beaver can live for quite a long time, and will usually survive between 12 and 20 years. The mating pattern of the beaver is that they will usually mate for life, and will begin to breed after they are about three years old. Beavers are only fertile for a short period every year, and will give birth to a litter of up to three kits four months after the mating period.
Habitat And Diet
Beavers will usually live in rivers and lakes, and can either make their ‘lodges’ in the middle of the water or on the river bank if there is a strong flow of water. Beavers will generally live in colder areas, but are quite adaptable and can change to live in any area with a suitable watercourse to live in. There are some examples of beavers adapting to live in rivers in urban areas too.
The beaver is a vegetarian animal which will eat bark from various trees, and will also eat seeds, weeds and any other plant life in and around their lodges. One of the reasons that beavers to gnaw through a tree trunk is so they can reach the younger shoots and bark that is to be found higher in the tree.
The ability of the beaver to create large and complicated dams to prevent the flow of water will often make them pests among people who want to have the water course running normally. The beaver was also hunted to near extinction in North America by trappers, but is now being reintroduced to many parts of the country and is having great success in developing a growing population once again.
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