Year of the Beaver
Each year the GSC chooses one animal to honor and for 2019 that animal is the American Beaver (Castor canadensis).
Come Visit our Beaver Exhibit in the Museum!
Beavers are mostly active at night (nocturnal) and do most of their work at that time. They spend most of their time in water and are far more vulnerable on land. They can be found anywhere with an abundance of water and material to build their dams and lodges. Beavers are most known for building dams, and they do this for an important reason. Beavers dam up running water ways to allow themselves deeper water to build a lodge in and be able to dive under if predators are around. The dams also flood surrounding areas to give them safer access to food sources such as leaves, buds, and inner bark of growing trees, with aspen and poplar being their favorite food source. Their lodges are built in the middle of water with the entrance under water in the bottom, and this is where the beaver and it’s family live. The water around the lodge must be deep enough that it does not freeze solid in the winter as beavers are still active in the water.
A little known fact by many people is that the beaver is actually North America’s largest rodent. Averaging around 45 lbs, these animals have been known to reach 110 lbs. Several adaptations allow this animal to live it’s day to day life and survive in the wild. The first is the beavers two coats of fur that allow for heavy insulation to keep the animal warm. The fur is coated with an oil that the beaver covers its body with that acts as waterproof to keep the beaver dry so that it doesn’t get wet and cold. Another adaptation is the beavers constantly growing teeth. This is a shared characteristic of all rodents, but the beavers allow for it to chew through wood and eat the plants that it does. These teeth are always growing so they must be constantly gnawing on objects to grind them down or they will grow into their skull. These teeth are the ultimate tool for the animal to use. These adaptation allow for this animal to be a very unique species.
History & Restoration
Historically, beavers were one of the species most impacted by the fur trade. Their pelts were used for clothing, coats, and hats by many. The over hunting and trapping of this species brought beavers to being nearly extinct in North America. Thanks to conservation efforts over time, this species is now listed as a species of least concern and can be viewed all over the continent in the wild with stable, healthy populations.