7 April 2020

8 cool things you didn’t know about Beavers! – International Beaver Day

Beavers have a great ability to shape the environment and their engineering skills are already famous all around the world. Of course, everyone knows about their ability to build dams, originally created to protect their family. However, this has in turn a strong impact on the natural ecosystem. Infact, forcing the water to slow and stopping the rivers in their tracks, they create a “beaver pond”, that helps the water to be better absorbed by the land, contrasting both droughts and floods.

But there are some other things that make Beavers interesting to discover:

  1. They used to be giant in the past: during the Ice Age, beavers were much bigger than now! Known as “Castoroides,” they looked very similar to their modern descendants but with 200 pounds more they grew to be up to 8 feet long!
  2. They secrete a chemical compound that smells like vanilla: named as “Castoreum”, it’s an FDA-approved natural flavoring coming mostly from a beaver’s castor sacs, located under the tail.
  3. Their dams can be enormous: probably built by multiple generations of beavers since 1970s, the world’s largest beaver dam was discovered in Alberta, spotted on a satellite image in 2007. It reaches 850 metres!
  4. Beavers are unusually romantic: the young male, looking for love usually starts to build a dam, where the whole beaver family will live in the future. Like Penguins they are monogamous!
  5. In 1948 they traveled by parachute: threatend by the inhabitants of western Idaho, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to save these threatened beavers, put them in a nearby protected area using surplus parachutes from World War II, dropping boxes of beavers down from planes.
  6. Beavers have orange teeth: to gnaw and bit tree trunks, beavers need extra-strong teeth. The reason is the Iron contained within the tooth, that makes them incredibly strong, sharp, and orange.
  7. Dams help the temperature control: One of the reasons why beavers build the dam, is to ensure that the lake behind it will grow deep enough, ensuring it will not freeze during the winter. This is crucial because beavers anchor a food cache to the bottom of the lake, as sustenance during the cold months.
  8. They have multi-purpose tails: usually up to 15 inches long and 6 inches wide, beavers’ tails are used both on land, as a counterbalance while bringing heavy supplies in their teeth and in the water, as a rudder or to warn other beavers of a predator coming.

Happy International Beaver Day from the Kiwa Family!