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