Because the beaver isn't just an animal; it's an ecosystem!

The Martinez Beavers

Fun Facts about Beavers!

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In my extended learning beaver-immersion  campus, there still  important things I do not know. Beaver mysteries, if you will.  I know what beavers eat, where they live, and how they wrestle. I’ve seen their socialization, their mutual grooming and their child-rearing. I know where beavers defecate, how they mate and how long they live. I even know about the whiskers above their eyes. But I didn’t, however, until this very April morning, know how they drink.

Duncan Haley of Norway just sent the newly finished report on managing European beavers in captivity, and I couldn’t resist pouring through the pages. Remember this is castor fiber – not castor canadensis like we have, but still there is much food for thought. I especially appreciated the notion that their diet is so cellulose- based that beavers only digest about 33% of what they eat! (So they need to eat a lot!) There is even an illustration of their most (ahem) intimate moment!

Figure 27. Copulation in water, replicated from Ruth Pollitts’ illustration (in Kitchener 2001).

Call me crazy, I was weirdly more impressed by the cleverly named ‘burrito technique’ which can prevent a beaver under anesthesia from losing their body heat.

Figure 68. The "burrito technique"; aluminium tin Figure 69. It foil is used to cover the extremities and minimise heat loss under anaesthesia.

But this was one thing I’ve ALWAYS especially wondered:

4.8 Drinking

Beavers need access to fresh water daily. Beavers cannot make licking motions and so do not lap water or lick fur. To drink, they hold their noses horizontally, whilst submerging their mouths and making chewing motions with their lower jaws to take in water (Wilsson 1971).

Now that makes sense! Come to think of it, I think I’ve even seen that behavior.  Hmm, maybe every time folks wonder ‘where beavers do something’ they’ve never observed, the smart answer is “In the water”. Of course Mr. Willson is the same researcher who so definitively observed that “beavers never stretch”.