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  • Clarke Wallace

LEAVE IT TO WHO?

There’s a creature working its buns off out there in the wild these days preparing for winter. Chomp chomp here; chomp, chomp there, a chomp chomp, everywhere. It’s the beaver working his/her buns off gathering food to last the winter.


I’m fascinated by it’s snout and eyes just clearing the water as it passes by us a handful of meters offshore. It’s mouth is jammed full of branches big and small, along with saplings.


Beavers don’t hibernate. Which means working 24/7 these days, first building their winter food store, or cache, not far from their lodge. It’s deep into cold water which keeps the branches of all different sizes fresh to eat.


The beaver is our biggest rodent ( yes, rodent) and second largest in the world. Its time clock sends out signals along the nerve pathways telling them how much diminished time is left to store food for the winter. This, according to writer M.L. Bream in the Toronto Star. Its headline: ‘Leave it to beavers to prepare for winter’.


Beavers have two coats of fur keeping them warm and waterproof. The soft, thick undercoat of brown fur keeps the animal warm; this shining overcoat of chestnut brown fur acts as a water repellant.


As it leaves the water, the animal spends quality time combing its fur with its front claws to make it soft and wooly again.


A beaver can remain underwater for something like 17 minutes before coming up for air. The animal’s nostrils and ears have valves that close when underwater, to open when the animal surfaces. It can also cut and chew ‘without getting its mouth full of water.”

Author’s comment: You’ll recognize a beaver’s lodge easy enough. It’s built deep in water using mud, rocks, clay, and large branches which poke up several feet above the water line. Among the beavers' favorites are cottonwoods, willows and poplars.


Guess hw long it would take a beaver to topple a fairly thick tree? Overnight. Hmmm.

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