Wednesday, July 7, 2021

NORTH AMERICAN BEAVER AT WALNEY POND - FROM MY OLD BLOG POST DATED 6-5-09

This is an old post from my original blog (long since closed).  I am slowly transferring all my old posts to this one.  Today shows the North American Beaver that we used to see regularly on our visits to Walney Pond.  These were from June 5th, 2009.  The lodge has disappeared since, whether it was dismantled or removed by nature, I don't know.

Described as "Nature's Little Engineer", the North American Beaver is considered to be the second largest rodent in the world (after the capybara).  Beavers are primarily nocturnal, though we saw ours in the early evening and still in the daylight hours.  From what I read, they are split into two extant species of the North American and Eurasian variety, with location of birth being the only real difference between the two.  Beavers generally have a large body and small head (like most rodents), a broad, flat and scaly tail and webbed hind feet.  Due to their small ocular cavities and nocturnal lifestyle, beavers have poor eyesight, but possess enhanced senses of hearing, touch and smell.

Living off an herbivore's diet of wood from quaking aspen trees, cottonwood tree, alder trees, willow trees, birch trees, maple trees, cherry trees, pondweed, sedges and water lilies, beavers can grow up to 55 lbs. (25 kg) before they pass away at around 24 years of age.  Often female beavers will grow larger than the male, which is uncommon amongst mammals.
The person who coined the phrase "Busy as a Beaver" was spot on.  He or she very industriously chewed on the lily pads off their stems and either ate them right there, or swam to shore and took them back to a spot underneath a tree.  He immediately came back and repeated the process dozens of times.
Online I read: "Beavers who inhabit smaller streams or ponds will make lodges so they can be active all winter and as a defense against predators.  The lodge will be made primarily of mud and branches."
"A beaver's front feet have five fingers and are very skilled at manipulating objects.  They can take a twig no bigger than a pencil, and twirl it around like a corn on the cob as they nibble off the bark."
"A semi-aquatic animal, beavers can stay under water as long as 15 minutes when necessary, and often do so when startled or frightened.  When in danger in the water, a beaver will rapidly dive under the surface by slapping its wide tail on the water.  The sound will be audible over a large area, warning other beavers, who will also dive down and avoid trouble.  Despite this amazing defense mechanism, they are far more well known for their natural ability and propensity towards making dams on rivers and steams.  Beavers prefer to live in mini-ponds, so in the absence of these small bodies of water, they will make their own.  Using their powerful front teeth (which grow continuously to avoid being worn down, are self sharpened almost into chisels, and are composed of hard orange enamel in the front and softer dentin in the back), beavers will cut trees and plants to both build and eat.  They will then make two vertical posts in the water, then fill that in with a crisscross of branches, weeds and mud, until the dam impounds enough water to make a "lodge".  Beavers are also known to make canals in the water in order to transport materials that they otherwise couldn't move over land."  Below is a diagram I found of what a lodge looks like inside.
If you want to learn more how the beaver builds its lodge and dams, there is a great YouTube video called "Beaver Lodge Construction Squad" from David Attenborough's BBC Earth.  Link here if you would like to take a look.
"The front teeth (incisors) of a beaver, or any other rodent, grow throughout the life of the animal.  The front surface of the incisors is made of a very hard enamel that is dull orange in color.  Since the back part of the tooth is not as hard, it wears off first, resulting in a chisel-like shape which for a beaver is perfect for the task of felling trees and stripping their bark.  A lone beaver can fell an 8-foot tree in 5 minutes."
"Beavers are highly social animals.  They live in family groups consisting of the parents and young of the year and two-year old offspring.  Litter sizes average three, so a family of eight beavers would not be uncommon."
Finally, our beaver retreated to shore.  We watched as it stood on its hind legs and chewed off a few lower branches off the tree, and then disappeared out of sight.





30 comments:

  1. You got GREAT photos of it!! And you even got the lodge! I have never seen one in the wild.

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    1. Thank you Ginny :) they are amazing animals.

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  2. Such interesting animals! I'm glad you got photos. They always disappear when I am around.

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    1. They certainly are and we were lucky with this one who stayed for 99% of the time we were there :)

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  3. I do envy you seeing beavers - and loved the photos and the information. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Sue and I envy you all those amazing kangaroos and colorful birds :)

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  4. Estes animais são uns verdadeiros arquitectos.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

    Andarilhar
    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

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    1. Obrigada e eu concordo :) Um abraço e continuação de boa semana pra vocês também.

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  5. Hello Denise,

    Great post and info on the Beaver. I have thought of you recently, I am hearing about rare sightings of Whistling Ducks and a Roseate Spoonbill being seen at Huntley Meadows. I know you have visited there before. Take care, have a happy day and week ahead.

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    1. Hello Eileen :) Thank you, I have seen photos of the spoonbill but did not know of the whistling ducks. I won’t be able to get there for a few days so I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will still be there. You take care care and happy day and week to you also.

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  6. Thanks Denise, it's one animals that I'm fascinated with when I think of it :)
    Good to read about them.

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    1. You are very welcome Margaret, glad you enjoyed and they are fascinating I agree.

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  7. You got great pictures of the beaver. This is a good idea to transfer blog posts from your old blog to this one.

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    1. Hi Linda, and thank you, much appreciated :)

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  8. Great photos Denise. Beavers are cute and quite amazing little creatures for sure!

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  9. they do look like really big rats but a whole lot cuter. i have never seen one and these are excelent shots. i love their feet, so cute... did not know a bout the slap of the tale or that they can stay under so long

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    1. Hi Sandra, they are cute :) I did know about them slapping their tail but did not know they could stay under water for 15 minutes.

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  10. Its amazing that all the critters in the world have a special reason for being here but some can make a mess of things. My brother had a couple of these that seemed to want to plug up the drain off on his lake....what a mess. But I love to watch them, hate seeing what they do to tress.

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    1. Hi Pam, I keep hearing these stories like that of your brother. I'm sorry he had so much trouble with them. Our beavers seem to have a lot of area where they are left to their own devices away from homes.

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  11. this is wonderful, a great read while i am sitting here in rehab and have the time to read it!! i use to be busy as a beaver, now a little slower!!

    great images, awesome information!!

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    1. Thank you Debbie, I really appreciate your kind words. I have been thinking of you all the time and will be very happy when I hear you are back home and being as busy as a beaver :)

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  12. I've never seen a beaver in the wild. It would be fun to, though...
    Great photos.

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  13. I've seen their dams and lodges more than I've seen them. They are marvelous animals.

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  14. What a great post! I love beavers!! Big Hugs!

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    1. How sweet of you to write all these messages for me :) I love beavers too. Big hugs from me too.

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