Beavers and their ability to survive the winter season

Beavers, with their webbed hind feet, small eyes, small round ears, large teeth and their flat, scaly tails, are the second largest rodent in the world. The only other animal who changes their environment for their own purposes more than the beaver, is the human.

Through the dams or lodges that they build, beavers create a pond with second-growth forest on its edge. Eventually, if the beavers occupy the dam long enough, detritus and soil will fill in the area and it will become a meadow.

These rodents spend most of their lives in the water. This is because they have short legs which do not move well on land, but in the water, they are able to use their large, webbed feet to move very rapidly to help them escape predators, such as wolves, foxes and otters.

Beavers are non-hibernating herbivores. During the warmer weather, beavers eat many different kinds of vegetation, including leaves and twigs of trees and aquatic plants. When the temperatures kill off this tender vegetation, beavers eat the inner bark of trees.

These animals build dams on small streams to create deep water. This deep water becomes their defense against predators. The dams are created from the part of the trees they do not readily ingest, such as gnawed branches, as well as mud from the bottom of the ponds or streams. They also use other elements from their surroundings to create these dams. They may include in their construction items such as rocks, and mussel shells.

As winter approaches, the beavers become more noticeable. To help prepare for the winter months when their water may freeze, beavers chew down extra trees to store near the den. This gives them a food source.

They also take the time leading up to the winter months to make sure their dams are prepared for the winter months. Beavers will chop down more trees to help in the home-maintenance. These shelters, or lodges, are generally cone-shaped and have underwater entrances. They are built along the shoreline. When constructing these lodges, the beavers will build from the inside of the lodge to the outside.

If the beaver is a river-dwelling animal, they will generally use mud and create burrows along the riverbanks.

When winter strikes and the water becomes frozen, beavers can be seen swimming under the ice. An adaptation that they have is that their fur has a thick underfur which acts as an insulation. Beavers have a scent gland that secretes an oil which they use to waterproof their fur. They also have a thick layer of fat under their skin.

Through their architectural, and construction skills, and their adaptations, these furry, water-loving creatures survive the winter months very well.