Beavers are large semi-aquatic rodents known for their unique biology and adaptations. They typically range in size from 2 to 3 feet long, with an additional tail length of about a foot. Their bodies are robust and well-suited for their aquatic lifestyle. One of their most distinctive features is their broad, flat tail, which serves various functions such as communication, balance, and propelling through the water.
Beavers possess a dense, waterproof coat of fur consisting of two layers: a soft underfur and a protective layer of long guard hairs. This specialized fur enables them to remain warm and dry in water, as it traps air against their skin. They also have webbed hind feet, ideal for swimming, and sharp, chisel-like incisors that grow continuously throughout their lives. These incisors are essential for their dam-building activities and for gnawing through tree trunks to construct their lodges.
Their lodges are impressive structures made from sticks, logs, and mud. These lodges serve as safe havens where beavers live, rear their young, and hibernate during winter. Additionally, beavers build dams across streams and rivers to create deep ponds, which provide protection against predators and a stable water source for their lodges.
Beavers are herbivores and primarily feed on the bark, leaves, and twigs of trees, especially aspen, willow, and birch. They have a remarkable ability to fell trees with their powerful incisors, contributing to the shaping of their environment. Their diet and dam-building activities can significantly impact the landscape and create vital wetland ecosystems, attracting a diverse array of wildlife.
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