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Be a Ver-y Good Craftsman, Born to Fell?

By the Site Ecology Team (SET) and Wildlife and Industry Together (WAIT)

November 4, 2015

Beaver in grass
Professional model
Photo courtesy of Makedocreative

Not every individual can say that they were destined to do a particular thing in life. However, that’s not the case with this individual, for he was going to be an architectural engineer from the day he was born. Born to proud parents at an early age, he enjoyed playing with his five siblings. Nourished by his mother for the first month, he grew rapidly and soon was able to go on foraging trips with his father. He could be a little gnawty at times but what beaver is knot? He liked the fell feeling and reveled with delight when his first tree hit the ground. The world was now his to enjoy, especially the herbaceous parts like leaves, green bark of fast growing trees, clover, alfalfa, and fruits like apples and pears. Seldom was he seen out during the day for he is nocturnal, a mainly aquatic animal who didn’t want to give away the tricks of the building trade. At age two, his parents forced him from the colony lodge and sent him on his way to find another pond or wetland to live in with a mate of his own. By now he had learned how to avoid getting trapped under a tree, carry saplings in his mouth, and make beaver sticks for hikers. He learned to use sticks, mud and vegetation to make a nice mini-reservoir for the kits.

As an adult, he’ll weigh 35 to 60 pounds and reach a length of 3 to 4 feet including his tail that can be 18 inches long. That tail is multifunctional, being a prop when standing, a rudder when swimming, or an attached alarm system, a good thing since his mouth is usually full of supplies. When he locates his new territory, he settles down with his new mate for life. They will begin their own colony, building a lodge and, if necessary, a dam that can also serve for supply storage and additional living space. The lodge can be built into the bank or positioned in open water, either with underwater entrances.

Abandoned beaver lodge by a river
Abandoned lodge at bridge number five
Photo courtesy of Bill Willis

The beaver is second only to man in manipulating his environment.

You won’t often see a beaver for they remain tuned in to their surroundings. A loud slap on the water surface is the warning sound that they’ve seen you. When they dive, they can remain submerged for up to fifteen minutes. Special membranes cover the nose, ears, and eyes during these dives.

Discovery Lake has had several shore lodges, all but one has been abandoned.

What is believed to be a single beaver still occupies the lodge north of bridge #8. An underwater approach slide is evidence that he is currently using the lodge.

Occupied beaver lodge by a river
Occupied lodge
Photo courtesy of Bill Willis

Only recently, he enjoyed some persimmon and sea myrtle saplings near nature marker #9. Contributions of this nature go to a needy family in the area. This last location shouldn’t invoke any concern since it is well away from maintained areas. And, it shouldn’t be too long before the stumps re-sprout and provide additional vegetation.

Look for the beaver as you walk the trail in the early morning or evening. We would enjoy a picture and hearing of your experience.

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