Friday, April 25, 2014

Beavers in Spring

I'm trying a little different format today. Here is information I pulled together on beavers.  These vegetarians can be found in our area along the rivers. They were reintroduced in the 1930s to the state. 

American Beaver, image from public domain

Castor Canadensis

Called the “sacred center” of land by Native Americans as it creates rich watery habitat for other animals

“Engineers of wilderness”

Modified river bank burrow in our area--I see these along the river by Shanklin Park, Oxbow Park, and others have mentioned seeing them behind Briar Patch Shelter. I've also heard there is a lodge at Lieber Nature Preserve in Bristol. 

Help maintain wetlands
Cut trees, helps promote bushier regrowth the following year
Almost extirpated from North America in early 1900s, rare in Indiana by 1840
Reintroduced in 1935
Pelts were valuable for trade (worth $100 in 1920, only $10 today)
Trapping rights fueled the French and Indian Wars

Largest rodent in North America
Broad, flattened tail
30-70 pounds, about 4 feet long
Incisors grow throughout life
Front feet used for digging and grooming, Large hind feet webbed with one nail split for grooming purposes
Oil glands (called castors), combs oil into its fur to waterproof it and used for territorial marking
Tail used as a rudder, smacks water to signal danger
Can stay underwater up to 6 minutes, can travel up to ½ mile under water
Strict vegetarians
Transparent eyelids
Generally monogamous

Beavers in Spring
Kits (young) born in spring—April, May, or June
1 to 4 kits per litter, birthing process takes several days
Fully furred when born, eyes are open, incisor teeth are visible
Take to water easily, might swim before 1 day old
Stay with parents for 2 years, becoming babysitters in the second year
After weaning, enjoy water lily tubers, apples, and leaves and green bark from fast-growing trees
Kit predators include hawks, owls, and otters

Beaver eat leafy parts and roots of aquatic plants, such as cattail, duck potato, water lilly, spadder dock, grass, sedge blackberry canes during spring

Castor Mounds: Mark territories in spring by dragging up mud and debris and mounding on shores, depositing oil from castor gland, leaves a reddish stain on bank, humans can detect

Here are sources of the information I pulled together on beavers in spring: