The Beaver Who Could Chew

August 19, 2023
David Sunnyside

Beavers work hard at all times of the year. They build dams that impound flowing water, dig canals to connect wetlands to lakes and rivers, and create lodges as a place to live.

They also gnaw on wood and branches to supply building materials. Their industrious nature has earned them the nickname of “the lumberjacks of the rodent world.” Beavers never stop growing, so they must chew on hard objects to prevent their teeth from growing too large for their jaws. Their incisors have hard orange enamel on one side and softer white dentin on the other, so their teeth self-sharpen as they chew through tough materials. This allows them to cut and shave wood into building material with their powerful jaw muscles. A single beaver can fell a medium-sized tree in a night, and they work together to construct their dams, lodges and other buildings.

A beaver's orange teeth are not due to environmental stains; they actually contain iron that improves their ability to slice through wood. They have powerful jaw muscles and use their necks and shoulders to carry heavy loads, like logs for dam construction. Beavers mate for life and live in small family units of 2-8 animals. Their tight-knit families help them withstand predators and other challenges that would break weaker families apart. Beaver fur is very thick, soft and warm, which has made them desirable to hunters and trappers for centuries. The animal is also valued for its food, castoreum.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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