Beaver

Busy as a Beaver

Busy as a Beaver Cyndi Bohannon Beavers (Castor canadensis) alter their environment to fit their needs to a greater degree than any other animal besides man. Their conversion of densely wooded streambeds to wetlands and finally to nutrient  rich meadows is an ecologic miracle.  Whether you consider the beaver to be an engineering genius or a tenacious pest that is ruining a beautifully wooded stream depends on exactly where the beaver “is being busy”. Known to the American Indians as “sacred center”, beavers create rich habitat that act as a cradle for biodiversity. Wetlands provide habitat for almost half of all endangered species and their biodiversity is rivaled only by rainforests. Wetlands sponge up flood water, prevent erosion by slowing the progress of flowing water and raise the water table. Wetlands also act as earth’s kidneys to purify the water by providing natural “settling ponds” where bacteria can break down toxins and remove excess nitrogen from the system. Beaver vary in weight and size based on their habitat with the larger, heavier individuals living in colder climates. On average the beaver is 20 – 60 pounds and has a body length of 30 to 40 inches long and a tail length of 10 – 13 inches.  Pairs mate for life during their third year and can live twenty or more years. They have a single litter per year which consist of two to four kits (up to six have been documented) that weigh about a pound each after a gestation of 110 to 120 days. Kits are born with open eyes and begin swimming within weeks of birth. Beaver families consist of the mated pair, the yearling kits and the current litters. The yearlings babysit [...]