05/06/2011 20:08North American Beaver - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaPage 3 of 16http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Beaver
C. c. canadensis
, feeding in winter
then eat out one or more underwater entrances and two platforms above the water surface inside the pile.The first is used for drying off. Towards winter, the lodge is often plastered with mud which when it freezeshas the consistency of concrete. A small air hole is left in the top of the lodge.The dam is constructed using sections of deciduous trees, especially birch, aspen, willow and poplar. Theinner bark, twigs, shoots and leaves of such trees are also an important part of the beaver's diet.
Thetrees are cut down using their strong incisor teeth. Their front paws are used for digging and carrying andplacing materials. Some researchers have shown that the sound of running water dictates when and where abeaver builds its dam. Besides providing a safe home for the beaver, beaver ponds also provide habitat forwaterfowl, fish, and other aquatic animals. Their dams help reduce soil erosion and can help reduceflooding.Beavers are most famous, and infamous, for their dam-building. They maintain their pond-habitat byreacting quickly to the sound of running water, and damming it up with tree branches and mud. Earlyecologists believed that this dam-building was an amazing feat of architectural planning, indicative of thebeaver's high intellect. This theory was questioned when a recording of running water was played in a fieldnear a beaver pond. Despite the fact that it was on dry land, the beaver covered the tape player withbranches and mud.
The largest beaver dam is 2,790 ft (850 m) in length—more than half a mile long—and was discovered via satellite imagery in 2007.
It is located on the southern edge of Wood BuffaloNational Park in northern Alberta and is twice the width of the Hoover Dam which spans 1,244 ft(379 m).
Normally, the purpose of the dam is to provide water around theirlodges that is deep enough that it does not freeze solid in winter. Thedams also flood areas of surrounding forest, giving the beaver safeaccess to an important food supply, which is the leaves, buds, andinner bark of growing trees. They prefer aspen and poplar, but willalso take birch, maple, willow and alder. They will also eat cattails,water lilies and other aquatic vegetation, especially in the earlyspring (and contrary to widespread belief,
they do not eat fish).In areas where their pond freezes over, beavers collect food in latefall in the form of tree branches, storing them underwater (usually bysticking the sharp chewed base of the branches into the mud on thepond bottom), where they can be accessed through the winter. Often the pile of food branches projectsabove the pond and collects snow. This insulates the water below it and keeps the pond open at thatlocation.Beavers usually mate for life. The young beaver "kits" typically remain with their parents for up to twoyears.Common natural predators include gray wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions. Less significant predatorsinclude bears, which can dig into a lodge, wolverines, river otters, Canadian lynx, bobcats, and mink.
There are 25 subspecies of beaver in North America, but different subspecies have been reintroduced toareas with previously geographically isolated subspecies, following population decline or extirpation of the