“What’s That?” Wednesday: Beaver Sign

Read on to find out a bit more about beaver as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about beaver sign. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, research binder, or lap book.

Occasionally, as we make our way along a riverside trail, we see signs that beavers have been at work. The tell-tale sign is a tree that has been carved, and often felled, with little tooth marks indicating it was not a chainsaw, but a beaver. The other day we saw multiple fallen trees and stumps, and ultimately came upon a beaver lodge built up on the far edge of the river. It was neat to follow the trail of fallen trees, stumps, and wood chips to find the lodge and to examine the construction.

Beaver sign 9-1

Beaver sign 6-1

Beaver sign 5-1

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Beaver sign 1-1

Beaver sign 4-1

 Some interesting things to know about beaver sign:
– Beavers are large rodents that are mostly nocturnal . They are usually active at night cutting trees, building, and foraging for food sources.

– They build both lodges (homes) and dams.

– Lodges are typically found in the middle of a pond, but can also be seen along the sides of a riverbank.

– Lodges are constructed with large fallen trees, smaller branches, twigs, and mud.

– If a suitable site is not available for a lodge, beavers sometimes burrow into the sides of a riverbank; they also build dams to create sites for lodge building.

– Dams create deep ponds for protection and the building of lodges when other natural locations are not available.

– Dams are built using vertical support logs filled in horizontally with branches, twigs, mud, and grasses.

– Beavers have also been known to build canals to float logs that are too big to drag over land.

– Beavers are herbivores, eating both tree bark and aquatic plants such as water lilies.

– Beaver teeth grow continuously and are self-sharpening, with hard orange enamel on the front of the teeth and a softer material called dentin on the backside of the teeth.


Beaver skull-1

Other Resources

– On this National Geographic site click the audio button to hear sounds that beavers make.

– First wild beaver in 800 years confirmed in the U.K.? An amazing video was released this week of a beaver living in the wild in the U.K.! (Warning: not an exciting video – just amazing for true nature nerds.)

Click here to download the beaver sign nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

NOTE: We would love to hear some feedback about the PDF files provided each Wednesday. What do you like? What would you change? What would you like to see added? Please let us know!


8 comments… add one

  • Kim January 29, 2014, 7:50 am

    We are always finding signs of beaver on our creek side hikes, always a fun find.

    • dawn January 30, 2014, 10:32 pm

      Yes! It never gets old. Always fun to see the signs they have been around.

  • Wendy N January 29, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Great post! It always amazes me at how beavers can actually chew through wood!

    • dawn January 30, 2014, 10:32 pm

      Right! Those teeth are amazing!

  • Jessica January 30, 2014, 9:10 am

    Oh! I fondly remember visiting the beaver den on Lake Jean (at a state park here in PA) each summer when I was young! So neat! Beavers are amazing, aren’t they?

    • dawn January 30, 2014, 10:34 pm

      Nice memory. They are so amazing. We read that they are only second to humans for altering their environment.

  • Marcy January 30, 2014, 1:45 pm

    We are really enjoying the PDFs. Would really like to see the extra pictures that are included online be included in the PDFs even if they are made smaller–I end up having to go show them anyway to give the kids more nice examples. Also would be nice if the links you share can be included in the PDFs (even though they may not always be up, some links do stay up on the web for surprisingly long). We don’t usually do the cloud or scramble (but that’s just us). It’s the nice bit of info and the fantastic photos that we really value. Thanks so much!

    • dawn January 30, 2014, 10:30 pm

      Thanks for the ideas, Marcy!
      We have talked about making the photos smaller. Nice to know you would like more in the PDF. We will also work on adding the links.
      So happy to know you are using them. Be sure to let us know if you think of any other ways they can be useful to you and your family.

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