I’ve mentioned before that I am in the middle of researching and writing a series of picture books on animal adaptations, which has been so much fun. Deciding which animals to put in each book (I only get to pick 12-13!) was difficult, but I decided to put beavers in the mammal book because I don’t think they get nearly the credit they deserve.
First of all, beavers are ecosystem engineers. The dams they build create slow-moving ponds, which helps to reduce downstream erosion. They also provide aquatic habitats for countless other species, creating highly diverse biological communities. The dams themselves are an engineering feat. Built from downed trees and limbs, the dams/lodges are water-tight – sticks, reeds, branches, and saplings woven together and “caulked” with mud. They are ventilated by a small hole in the roof called a chimney. Oftentimes the entrance to the lodge is underwater, keeping the beavers safe from predators. Beavers even cover the floor in wood shavings that absorb excess water and provide a comfy bed. They really are amazing critters. And they’re pretty cute, too.