What's going on with beavers?

What's going on with beavers?

What has webbed feet, a flat scaly tail and loves to chop down trees?

Answer: a beaver!

Beavers are pretty special. They can chop down trees with their front teeth! Imagine trying to chew down a tree with your teeth - how long do you think it would take you? It takes a beaver just one night.

What the beaver's teeth have, which your teeth don't have, is a special trick to stay sharp. The enamel on the front of the tooth is harder than on the back. This means that chewing wood wears out the softer side quickest, giving a nice sharp blade at the front. It also helps that the teeth never stop growing. In fact, if they didn't wear their teeth down on trees, their front choppers would get too huge for the beaver to eat properly!

Beavers use trees as food and to build a lodge - this is the name for a beaver's house.

Beavers block up streams with the trees they chew down. This makes a still, open area of water - like a little lake. Then, beavers make a lodge. A lodge is a pile of mud and sticks - not very comfy for us, but perfect for beavers. The lodge has lots of entrances. Some of these entrances are underwater - a good way of stopping any predators getting in. The still water that beavers create is the perfect habitat for lots of bird species too.

Beaver_87614934

A beaver's lodge

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) has hidden a camera in Martin Mere, where two beavers called Twiggy and Woody live. You can watch Twiggy and Woody on Beaver Cam! They normally appear on the camera from around 9pm onwards, but it depends on the weather. If it's horrible and rainy the beavers stay inside - wouldn't you?

Beaver swimming_92911769

When you're watching the beavers, see what you can observe.

  • Can you see them diving underwater? How do they stop water getting in their ears and up their nose?
  • Can you see them chopping down any trees? Do they do it on their own or together?
  • Are they carrying anything in their mouths?
  • Do the beavers ever play together? How do they communicate?

To watch Twiggy and Woody on Beaver Cam, and to find out more about beavers, go to: http://www.wwt.org.uk/visit-us/martin-mere/live-web-cam-beavers.

Curriculum information

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