North American beaver, up to 1.3 m (4.3 ft) long The beaver is a large rodent that builds dams out of wood and mud to create deep-water ponds that provide a defensive barrier for their homes. Beavers are found in North America, Europe and Siberia. They live in and around forest rivers, feeding on bark, twigs, roots and leaves. Their back feet are webbed for swimming and their coats are sleek and waterproof. They use their large, flat tails as rudders for steering as they swim.
Beavers are known for building dams across streams in order to create their own ponds. With their strong teeth, they gnaw through tree trunks which they use to build a dam across a stream, forming a pond. In so doing, the beaver creates a wetland, an ecosystem that is lived in by many other species of animal.
Beaver lodge and damIn the pond that forms behind the dam, the beavers construct a lodge out of mud and sticks. The chamber inside the mound is reached by several tunnels, each with an underwater entrance. The lake around the lodge protects the family from predators. The beavers are careful to make the lake deep enough so it does not freeze to the bottom in winter. Before winter sets in, beavers cover their lodges with mud. This freezes when frost occurs. The mud hardens, making it impossible for predators, such as wolves or wolverines, to break in.
A cross-section through beaver lodge and dam. Behind a rough dam of twigs and mud, lies a small lake, diverted from a stream. At...Read More >>A cross-section through beaver lodge and dam. Behind a rough dam of twigs and mud, lies a small lake, diverted from a stream. At its centre is a lodge, a mound of mud and branches that is home to a family of beavers.
Beavers mark their territories by building scent mounts made of a mixture of mud and castoreum, a urine-based substance. It will fight any intruder aggressively.
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