Twenty nine million years ago there were beavers living in North America. They were the size of kittens and they lived in spiral burrows on dry land. Their burrows were in “beaver towns” similar to the way prairie dogs live.
There have also been skulls discovered from that long ago time that were beavers who were even tinier that those. At the other end of the scale, they have unearthed beaver skulls which were as large as bear skulls.
Beaver’s live up to fourteen years. The will keep growing if they are in an area where they have excellent feeding. They are vegetarians, liking water plants and also grasses and bark.
They are excellent swimmers. They can walk on their hind legs and their paws are adapted for holding and grasping.
Their feet are webbed. Their tail is large and flat and when it is slapped down on the water in warning to other beavers, the loud, cracking noise it makes is impressive.
Beavers have biting, or incisor teeth. The top two are short and broad. The bottom ones are used for cutting and they keep growing and are very sharp and strong.
Beavers are very family oriented and social which has them living with several other beaver families. They mate for life.
The female gives birth to two or three babies. At one month old they are in the water swimming.
In the winter they hibernate. They create wonderful homes from small trees such as Aspen. The home has a platform of woven wood covered with a mound formed of wooden logs.
The outside is covered with mud and the walls inside are also cemented with mud. The floor is covered with earth and leaves.
Its entrance is under water lake they created by building a dam. Their dam is built of logs, of course, but also reinforced by mud and stones. They put a supply of winter foodstuffs like bark.
Those who study ecology marvel at all the good that beavers do for this earth.
If a forest grows up and the trees are so close that their leaves block out the sunlight then the lower, smaller plants cannot grow.
The lower forms of life which need those plants to survive cannot exist and so the larger birds and mammals that would need those forms of like could not thrive there. The larger predators who feed on those could not exist either.
In Indian legends, a dark, empty, silent forest such as that was said to be inhabited by a monster named Wendigo, who drove men mad.
But that kind of forest could and did change with the coming of beavers. As they used trees for food and for building, the sunlight could come into the forest and as they dam up some water it makes a place where creatures are drawn to and the area begins to flourish.
That draws more birds and animals to the area and the system grows and nature establishes a balance.
Like countless other animals, the beaver fell prey to man’s savage greed. As the twentieth century began, most of the fur bearing animals had become rare.
Thankfully, a man named Grey Owl came forward at a lecture hall many, many years ago and educated people about the destruction of the American north woods and enough people listened to him and were passionate enough about the land and animals that it caused the Canadian Government to take action to establish forest reserves.
The beavers have some places once again to be happily busy.Find out more about the Beaver over at Wikipedia »
There is Myocastor coypus on the second picture, not beaver!