The beaver is the largest rodent in North America, with adults as long as 4 feet and up to 60 pounds. These incredible animals are found across the country and are perfectly suited to aquatic environments. Since it’s World Water Day and the wetlands that beavers create support over half of the world’s endangered and threatened species, here are some of the most amazing things about beavers:
- Beavers have webbed hind feet, which makes them excellent swimmers.
- Beaver fur is waterproof and buoyant, enabling the animal to enjoy extended underwater work.
- Beavers have valves in their ears and nose that close when swimming underwater. They also have a valve in their mouth behind the incisor teeth, allowing them to gnaw while underwater.
- Beavers have impressive respiratory capacities, able to stay submerged for almost 20 minutes.
- Beaver tails are large and shaped like a canoe paddle. The tail can be likened to a boat rudder, steering the beaver as it swims. The tail also offers balance on land, especially when carrying branches.
- Beaver teeth continue to grow through out their life, so chewing on trunks and branches prevents them from getting too long.
Scientists believe that beavers create dams to protect themselves and their family from predators. Occasionally, these dams can block water flow and contribute to the flooding of roads, septic systems, homes, farms or other developments.
As a way of preventing possible flooding associated with beaver dams, many municipalities simply hire trappers to kill beavers. And while lethal trapping may seem effective, it is not an effective solution. More beavers will soon return to the area to take advantage of the available habitat and food sources.
What trappers rarely acknowledge is that beavers can improve water quality, protect us from drought, and help decrease soil erosion. Beaver habitat also restores and supports biodiversity and creates vital wetland habitat for a wealth of animal and plant species. Beavers are even being credited with controlling a recent fuel spill in Utah.
So on World Water Day, let’s celebrate beavers and all they do for our wetlands!
For more information on our beaver coexistence campaign, click here.