Beavers – The dam builders

Beavers – The Dam Builders

There are two dwelling species of beavers, the Eurasian, Castor fiber and the North American, Castor canadensis. Beavers belong to the mammalian household Castoridae of Rodentia that advanced in Oligocene epoch however the genus Castor advanced a lot later in Pleistocene, about 2 million years in the past.

The 2 dwelling species are genetically totally different and have totally different variety of chromosomes (48 within the European and 40 within the North American species). The 2 species are additionally not identified to hybridize and produce viable offspring. Beavers are well-known for constructing massive dams throughout rivers in northern Canada by felling massive timber, a tremendous feat for a small animal.

Beavers are the one animals, apart from human beings, which alter their atmosphere and surrounding habitat to swimsuit them and their household. Beavers mate for all times and reproduce every year, however their kits stick with the household for 2 years, after which they might search mates and construct their very own dams.


Beavers feed on leaves, twigs, stems and bark of a wide range of vegetation, reminiscent of, alder (Alnus sp.), aspen (Populus tremuloides), birch (Betula sp.), cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa), maple (Acer sp.), poplar (Populus sp.) and willow (Salix sp.). In summer season months they feed on the tubers and leaves of cattails, water lilies, sedges and different pond weeds. Often conifers, reminiscent of pine and fir are additionally eaten. Beavers are herbivores and by no means eat fish or different carnivorous food regimen. To digest cellulose, they’ve symbiotic micro organism of their gut that produce the cellulose-digesting enzyme cellulase.

Morphological variations

Grownup beavers are 3-4 ft lengthy and weigh 15-30 kg. In Pleistocene epoch there have been large beavers inhabiting Europe and North America which had been virtually the dimensions of a black bear. They had been worn out together with different massive mammals in Pleistocene mass extinction.

Beavers are wonderful swimmers and effectively tailored for amphibious mode of life and for constructing dams. They possess a big flattened paddle-like tail to propel them in water. The tail could measure 15 inches lengthy and 6 inches vast, lined with leathery scales and sparse, coarse hairs. The hind legs are bigger and stronger with webbed ft to present them robust propulsion whereas carrying branches by means of water to construct dams. Entrance legs are smaller and ft with out net to govern wooden and dig canals on the banks of ponds.

The pores and skin is protected with double layer of dense fur, coated with oil secreted by a pair of oil glands, in order that water doesn’t attain the pores and skin even when they’re submerged in water. Along with fur a thick layer of subcutaneous fats protects them from freezing chilly in winter months.

As in different rodents, entrance incisors of beavers are enlarged, chisel-shaped and self-sharpening, as solely the entrance aspect is roofed by laborious enamel. Posterior softer dentine layer of incisors wears out shortly whereas the anterior laborious enamel stays longer to maintain it razor sharp to chop wooden simply. Having this amazingly efficient implement at their disposal, beavers lower a deep groove across the trunk of a tree, making the tree fall simply.

Dam development

Beavers are tailored to stay in stagnant water of ponds and lakes and therefore they assemble dams to cease working water of a river, so {that a} pool is fashioned behind the dam, in the midst of which they construct an island of branches and twigs to make a nest or lodge. This lodge in the midst of the pond protects them and their offspring from predators.

There may be 2-12 people of a single household dwelling inside a lodge. Beavers’ feat of dam development is exceptional as a result of a few of these dams are hundred metres or extra throughout the river and are made from branches of timber introduced from the forest. The biggest recorded beaver dam measured 850 m lengthy in northern Alberta, Canada.

The lodge or nest in the midst of this island may be reached solely by means of underwater passages and therefore is out of attain of terrestrial predators. The partitions of the lodge are constructed with sticks and sealed with mud to maintain them heat in winter months. Beavers don’t hibernate and wish meals in winter. Due to this fact, they retailer branches of edible vegetation within the dam, which may be simply reached from the nest.

When they’re dwelling in stagnant water of ponds and lakes, beavers excavate tunnels and caverns into the banks and make protecting nests inside.

Beavers are additionally economically necessary to people because the wetlands created behind the dams take in floodwaters, cut back soil erosion, increase water desk and purify water by silting. Polluting pesticides are damaged down into innocent chemical compounds by microbes within the wetlands created by beavers. The wetland habitat created by beavers is important for a lot of species of vegetation and different wildlife, reminiscent of frogs, bugs, snails, fishes, migratory water birds, geese, geese, raccoons and so forth. Beavers produce an ecosystem that could be very wealthy in life.

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