Beaver, photograph courtesy of Tracy Dibble

Beavers have moved into the neighborhood! Usually you do not see these large rodents, just their lodges, canals, dams and lots of gnawed trees. There are two varieties of beavers that live in streams, ponds, rivers, and marshes throughout North America, Europe and Asia and the reason we do not often see them is they are nocturnal. Beavers are known for changing the landscape by creating dams to block streams and turning fields into ponds, which is what they are doing in our (my mom’s) cow pasture.

The beaver's new pond

Because beavers are so destructive they are often trapped and moved to a location where they can live peacefully. The beavers in this case will not be moved for the time being. Several years ago, just up the road from the new beaver pond, beavers creating a dam that flooded the road. I do not know what happened to those beavers, but I think the town had to fix the road, most likely these beavers are all related.

Beaver Engraving, Courtesy of Vintage Printables

Beavers are herbivores, they eat water lily tubers, apples, roots, leaves and green bark from fast-growing trees, such as aspen, cottonwood, birch, alder and willow. They have flat tails that aid in swimming, temperature regulation and fat storage that allows them to stand upright. Beavers also have long, lustrous fur and webbed hind feet. They can weigh up to 40 pounds and live to be 25 years old.

In their third year beavers usually find a mate, which is for life. The parents raise their kit (babies) together, which could be one to four kits. The colonies usually consist of six or more beavers, an adult male and adult female, their kits and yearlings. After two years of age the young beavers usually move on further down stream. Most likely the beaver photographed above was a young beaver searching for a new mate, because he was spotted downstream quite a distance away from the new pond.

Beaver pond

Beavers build ponds to create deep water to protect themselves against predators and also to float food and building materials. The deep water is important in the winter for food storage and it allows the beavers to stay warm in their lodges/dens. Left over food remains (peeled sticks) are used to build a den, lodge on the shore and/or a dam.

Jake doesn't care about the beavers, he just wants to play!

Nature is amazing isn’t it! Every time I walk into a field or woods, I always see something that puzzles me, is inspiring and makes me want to learn more! Have you ever seen a beaver? Or their lodges, dens or dams? We would love to hear from you, write us at farmhousemag(at)gmail(dot)com.

To learn more about beavers, visit these websites.

4 Responses to “Beavers”
  1. I will post my photos of my beaver dam this week. They have moved back after 15 years!

  2. vintagejenta says:

    Neat! I had no idea that beavers mated for life, ate apples, or were nocturnal!

  3. Susie LeFevre Hook says:

    I haven’t researched beavers recently, but about ten years ago we had a severe beaver “problem” on my church property along a large creek in Warrington, Pennsylvania. We had a variety of young trees planted in our large ornamental garden area. One night in October, the beavers emerged and cut down 11 of these trees. (Tooth marks were evident on the stumps, and we knew we had a near-by lodge.) Afterwards I read that a beaver can gnaw down a good-sized tree in about 15 minutes. My kids and I went out the next evening (after discovery) and worked with flashlights to pin metal hardware-cloth cylinders around the trunks of the remaining trees within 100′ of the creek. The church had those beavers removed, but since then we have decided to try to live with any future residents. We have planted a lot of native trees and shrubs, including favorite beaver foods, along the creek bank that will re-sprout when gnawed off by future beavers….When doing past research, I discovered that the American beaver population was almost destroyed by the fur traders of the 1700s and 1800s. Over the past few decades, for whatever reasons, the population has spurted up again. Ecologically, beavers are valuable contributors to water quality, fish, and erosion-prevention. I also recollect reading that they “can’t stand” the sound of running water, which is a cue to repair or rebuild dams. Some business was working on a sound-baffling device to fool beavers into thinking that their pond was intact when actually a culvert was still working. They are really remarkable animals.

    • Irma Elaine says:

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us Susie! I love that you are planting native trees and shrubs that will grow back fast, in case they get gnawed, which is a great idea! I will have to look that up about the running water, that would make sense if it is true. Thank you for reading our Magazine and commenting!

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