Beavers produce dams and colonies and are a keystone species to our planet, meaning that they help to maintain the overall functioning within their ecosystems. More than 1,000 creatures live in beaver-made wetlands. The ecosystem balance they provide not only supports beavers but other creatures as well. Beavers work hard and deserve praise. If you’re curious, here are 10 incredible beaver facts you might want to read!
1. Beavers Are Semi-aquatic And Excellent Swimmers!
Beavers may seem a bit odd on land, but in the water, they can swim up to 5 mph. Their physical structure helps them swim and move with ease. Their oily, waterproof fur keeps them dry and toasty when submerged for extended periods.
Beavers can submerge themselves underwater for up to 15 minutes. Their transparent eyelids function as goggles, letting them traverse the water. Because they are semi-aquatic, their eyes and nasal valves close while they swim.
2. Beavers Can Weigh Around 100 Pounds!
Beavers can range in size from a hefty 35 to 65 pounds. The largest beaver ever documented weighed in at a whopping 110 lbs. The average beaver is 3 to 4 feet in length while lying down and 3 to 5 feet when upright. One hundred and ten pounds was the largest beaver ever documented.
3. Beaver Tails Are Quite Useful
Beavers have huge flat tails. Its tail helps it swim and sit or stand erect. Beavers can slap their tails on the water’s surface if they perceive danger, to warn other animals, or just for pleasure. Beavers don’t hibernate and stockpile enough food to endure until spring. Their tail is virtually completely fat, plus a few connective tissues, which help them survive.
4. Their Teeth Are Strange But Powerful
A beaver’s front teeth jut out of their mouths, which looks funny, but they can eat up an 8-foot tree in 5 minutes. Their sharp teeth cut through branches, shrubs, and foliage to build nests and dams. Beavers’ incisors grow throughout life, but everyday use prevents expansion.
They also have orange teeth! An iron-rich enamel covering them creates this color and helps to prevent tooth decay. Beaver enamel contains iron, which helps reinforce it, unlike human enamel, which contains magnesium.
5. Vanilla Wafts From Their Bums
It may come as a surprise, but beavers exude a substance called Castoreum from castor sacs situated under their tails. This substance, along with urine, is used by beavers to mark their territory. Chemically speaking, this substance has the consistency of molasses and smells like musky vanilla. And the Food and Drug Administration has certified it as safe for use in flavoring foods.
6. Newborn Beavers Are Very Active
Kits are baby beavers. Born physically mature, they have fur and can open their eyes instantly. Kits can swim immediately after birth, but they need adult direction to learn other skills, such as hunting for food onshore as well as in water.
7. They Are Highly Intelligent
Beavers are keystone species, meaning they’re important for environmental health. They are among the few animals that can control their surroundings to produce a suitable home, but that’s not why they’re considered ecological engineers. The dams they make generate wetlands, which are vital ecosystems for countless species.
8. Even From Orbit, You Can See The World’s Largest Beaver Dam
For measuring the rate of permafrost melting, Canadian ecologist Jean Thie turned to Google Earth and NASA satellite photographs, where he came across images of what appears to be a beaver dam from space! The dam is in northern Alberta, Canada, in a secluded part of Wood Buffalo National Park.
9. Our Environment Is Improved By The Presence Of Beaver Wetlands
When beavers erect dams for safety, they produce wetlands. These operate as the kidneys of the earth, filtering water and soaking up excess rainfall and floodwaters. Wetlands not only store water for animals but also help stop the spread of wildfires. Beavers are vital to our ecosystem!
10. Man Is Their Biggest Threat
Modernization from humankind has harmed the habitats of many animals, and beavers are among those endangered by deforestation and pollution. Beavers as well as other creatures are losing their habitats. This could cause extinction if we are not careful.
Beavers aren’t exempt from the food chain either. Foxes, coyotes, otters, bobcats, and the green-horned owl hunt beavers. However, beavers are good at fending off predators with their intricate structures and proximity to water.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/TatianaMironenko
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