Beavers are fascinating animals and we have them right here at Moreau Lake State Park – you can see their lodges on a Mud Pond Hike. Please enjoy this article by NYS Parks. Enlightening and Educational:
More Beaver Facts!
- Beavers are very large rodents. They can grow anywhere from 26 to 65 pounds and be almost 3 feet long with almost another foot of length from their broad tail.
- Beavers communicate with each other in a variety of ways. Adults will grunt and young beavers will use high pitched whines. Beavers will even use their big, flat tails to make a loud, slapping noise to warn other beavers in the colony of nearby danger.
- Beavers have orange teeth. Their teeth are very hard and contain high amounts of iron, which looks orange to us. It’s not just because they forgot to brush!
- Like other rodents, a beaver’s front teeth (incisors) never stop growing. The length of their teeth is kept in check by being worn down when gnawing wood and are adapted to always stay sharp.
- Beavers have very special, flat tails. They use their scaly tails to help them swim, communicate, and pat down their dams. A beaver’s tail also helps to store fat and steady their body temperature (thermoregulation).
- Beavers have webbed back paws that help them swim better, and the second back toes have split nails they use to comb waterproofing oils into their fur.
- So water doesn’t get into awkward places, a beaver’s nose and ears can close completely underwater.
Beavers also have a special membrane for their eyes that they can close to keep the water out called a nictitating membrane, almost like a clear second eyelid.
- A beaver’s lips close behind their front teeth so they can chew sticks and other plant material underwater.
- Beavers are also known for what’s called a castor sac (hence their genus name Castor), which holds oil that has a strong smell and is used to make a substance called castoreum. Castoreum has been used as a perfume ingredient, food flavoring with a taste like vanilla, and a traditional medicine. Beavers also groom themselves with the castor oil to keep their fur waterproof. The strong scent of the castor oil makes it great for marking beaver territories, too.
- Beavers don’t hibernate in the winter and their lodges stay quite a bit warmer than the cold temperatures outside.
- Beavers are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular) and at night (nocturnal), so keep an ear out for tail slaps after the sun goes down.
- Beaver lodges are so well-built and cozy that other semi-aquatic mammals, like otters or muskrat, might adopt them if the beavers ever move out.
- Beavers are pregnant with kits from the middle of winter to late spring, so be on the lookout around then for furry, little beaver babies on your adventures in State Parks.
Post by Daniel Fleischman, NYS Parks and Student Conservation Association