Posted on 19. Jun, 2018 by in WOW! Blog

If you visit the West Branch Nature Preserve one of the things you will notice is evidence of beavers at work.  You’ll see the pond made by the beaver dam on the stream that runs through the area and you’ll see trees that have been gnawed by beavers.  You can also see the beaver dam and lodges made by the beavers.  Beavers are little civil engineers!  We don’t usually see the beavers at the nature preserve. But you’ll see trees like the one in the picture. Beavers are shy and they are nocturnal so they do most of their work at night. But I’ll try to describe the beaver.  It’s a large rodent, in fact the largest rodent in North America.  It can weight between 30 and 60 pounds.  Its fur is dark brown and very thick.  Beavers have very large front teeth, incisors, and strong jaws. This is how they are able to cut down trees. Beavers eat the inner layer of wood beneath the bark of the tree and they eat other plants. A beaver’s tail is wide and flat and has no fur. When a beaver slaps its tail on the water it makes a loud sound.  Beavers generally mate for life and a couple will have one litter a season usually born between March and May.  There may be from 1 to 8 “kits” in a litter.  The young stay in the family group for a couple of years. Family groups work together to maintain their lodges and dams. 

Beavers are considered a Keystone Species. A keystone species is one that is so important to an ecosystem that the ecosystem will collapse without its presence. Beavers are considered keystones because they build and maintain dams that form wetlands.  Wetlands are places of great biodiversity.  Here’s a link to a blog all about beavers and an article that will explain Keystone Species.

Beavers were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because people wanted their fur.  Fortunately the efforts to restore them to the environment have been successful and beavers are found throughout North America.  They are found in North Carolina in every watershed system

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