Beaver Engineering

These are the biggest of the beaver lodges on Long Lake. They are located about midway through the narrows, on the east side. Quite the engineering feat. This Spring we saw a beaver swim into the first lodge.  Last Spring my peaceful kayaking thoughts were disturbed by the loud slap of a beaver sounding the intruder (me) alarm.

Beavers, a/k/a Castor Canadensis, are the largest rodents in North America. They live in family groups of about eight, and will typically include a sibling group of 2 year olds, as well as the new litter of kits.

These critters are said to be able to topple a tree in a matter of hours or flood an area overnight. What they are up to with all this lumberjack stuff is creating a pond environment that will support their semi-aquatic lifestyle. The shape of their lodges changes to adjust to the flow of the water. In faster water, beavers build a curved lodge to encourage stability. But in slow water they build the lodge more straight.

In addition to felling trees to build their lodges, beavers eat the underbark of trees. I’m thinking that’s why that rather large beaver-gnawed branch in the photo is looking so naked. With all this gnawing going on, the fact that their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives is useful. According to Wikipedia, beavers also love to eat water-lilies. We have quite a few of those in some sections of the lake. In the first bay beyond the narrows in the north part of the lake, where the peninsula juts out, there is a nice crop of water-lilies every year.  We often watch a beaver swimming away from there headed back to the narrows just as night falls. With a full tummy, I’m guessing.

I am hoping, however, never to come out to our front lawn in the morning and find one of our trees looking like this last photo. And when I paddle past the big lodge now, I keep alert near this tall tree.

5 thoughts on “Beaver Engineering

  1. What unbelievable photos! Living in a small river village outside of NY doesn’t give me scenery like this — and, yes, watch out for that tree!

  2. @Evelyn…my housemate is an amazing photographer. I photograph the knitting…and he photographs almost all the outdoor stuff.

  3. …and damage! Near us beavers made a row collapse over a culvert. Not sure how they did it, but the road was closed for a few days 🙂

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