Leave It To Beavers

Beaver Lodge in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Neighborhood Beaver Lodge (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Just footsteps from my door is a beaver dam surrounded by a beautiful wetland.  I walk by it almost every day, but as yet have been unable to spot the reclusive residents that live in One Beaver Place.  And that is part of the mystery of beaver lodges for me; all the excitement is taking place under the cover of mud and branches.  As a lover of all creatures, I’d like to think that this small wetland created by my flat tailed friends is a beneficial part of our neighborhood.  So, I decided to do some research and find out more about these elusive critters . . .

Beaver Dam Wall in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Beaver Dam Wall (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Simply put, beavers build dams on rivers or streams, then build their lodge in the newly created pond.  Using their sharp front teeth, they cut trees and dense plant material to first construct a the dam wall, then move on to making the lodge, which provides a durable habitat for them to live in safely all year.  Beavers do not hibernate, and as herbivores feed year round on stored branches, underwater vegetation, and wetland grasses.  The female beaver may be larger than the male, both ranging up to 50 pounds, with a lifespan of 20 years in the wild. They have poor eyesight, but the beaver’s good hearing, sense of smell and strong webbed feet help them to avoid danger.  They will  rapidly slap their tail on the water to sound an alarm, then quickly dive under water for up to 15 minutes to elude predators.

Spent Cat Tails in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Spent Cat Tails (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

The earliest records dating back to the 1700’s estimate that between 60 to 200 million beavers populated North America.  Their impact was a positive one; creating ponds and wetlands that became biodiverse environments supporting mini ecosystems all throughout the United States. Beaver dams have been shown to promote natural wetlands that support our native fish, waterfowl and vegetation.  Their dams can stabilize the ground water table and increase retention during drought periods, while preventing erosion, and helping reduce excessive sediment accumulations after heavy rains.  For all their efforts, we thanked them by slaughtering them for their fur.

Habitat by Beaver in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Habitat Created by Beavers (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Centuries ago, beavers stood in the way of farmers and their farmland, and were considered a nuisance.  The fashionable beaver fur hat industry was a direct result of the efforts to remove the considered pest from agricultural developments.  Due to the increasing demand for beaver pelts, they were almost extinct by the early 1900’s.  However, the bulk of the killing was believed to be done before the late 1700’s.  To this day, beavers are often regarded with disdain because their dams can cause flooding in residential areas and roadways, sometimes plugging drainage culverts as well.  Luckily, some nature loving scientists and engineers have gotten together and are coming up with ways to make these situations more tolerable for all concerned. Let’s hope that in the years to come we continue to find ways to live in harmony with those both long and short of tooth.

Please visit this incredible website for more extensive information:  www.beaverdam.info

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Comments

  1. Love those Beavers!

  2. ann price says:

    Bravo Kathy, beavers need all the support they can get. A lovely piece.

    Best, Ann

    • Thanks Ann! Beavers are often misunderstood and I’m happy to spread the word that they are truly quite beneficial to our environment.

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