Ever since using Ipana toothpaste as a kid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0po-g28uTg, I have wanted to see a beaver at work. The North American beaver, Castor canadensis, is a fascinating creature, alright. It is a web-footed, semi-aquatic rodent (the largest in North America) with brown fur and that famous wide, flat tail. The adult beaver weighs about 44 pounds, but Bucky, the Biggest Loser, can weigh in at 77 pounds. The average busy beaver is about a foot tall, and that amazing tail is about 10 in long. Its life span in the wild is about 20 years.
Two things I usually think of when I consider the beaver – his tail and his teeth. The multi-purpose, miracle tail acts as a rudder while maneuvering on the river, as a stabilizing platform for standing upright on its back feet, as a lever when dragging trees to the dam, and as an emergency alarm, producing a warning signal when slapped on the surface of the water. What an amazing gift from the Creator. I just broke a tooth this past week and the reconstruction involved a root canal, a post, and a cap costing me as much as I have put into all of my gear for the hike. The beaver, on the other hand, has incredibly sharp, even renewable and self-sharpening, enameled teeth that can quickly polish off a tree trunk.
Beavers obviously live by rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes. They are one of the few animals that can drastically alter their environment as they create for themselves a proper and safe home. Beavers build dams that often change the course of mountain streams and result in small and large ponds. Along with the dams, they build lodges from sticks, bark, mud, and logs. Beaver dams have been known to flood the Appalachian Trail, putting beavers at odds with trail builders from time to time. The beaver lodge is most often located away from shore and has an underwater entrance making it tough for his enemies to enter his environment. Each beaver pond is inhabited by one beaver family: mom and dad, 2-4 babes (kits), and the yearlings from the previous year’s litter. When the food supply around the beaver’s home is exhausted, instead of heading to Kroger, they move to another site and start again.
I am enjoying researching the animals of the A.T. I didn’t know much prior to blogging and I gathered most of this data from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/.This site is basically for children, but it matches my knowledge base perfectly. Please check it out for some more info on Bucky and his furry friends.
- About beavers. (beaverpigs1012.wordpress.com)