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Beavers are vegetarians and like to eat trees as well as the cambium that lies beneath the bark. Beavers will also feed on a variety of aquatic plants including water lilies, pondweed and roots. Beavers prefer the wood of the quaking Aspen, Cottonwood, Willow and Alder trees. During winter months they stockpile branches on the bottom of the pond and have a cachet they can rely on until spring. They eat the bark from the inside of their dams allowing them to avoid hibernation during the winter months.

Beavers do not actually eat the wood. Beavers eat the leaves, small twigs and the bark. Beavers to not eat the inside of trees because they have trouble digesting cellulose and wood. The leaves twigs and bark contain most of the nutrients in a tree and there is much less cellulose. Beavers have to eat the same food twice. A beaver’s stomach has special bacteria to help them digest their food. The first time a beaver eats its food a soft pellet is produced, which the beaver eats again. The beaver has a special gland that works with the stomach to pre-digest food. The food that is digested the first time is made into a moist green pellet that passes through the cloaca. The cloaca is the beavers vent for excretion, reproduction and scent discharges. A second digestion extracts more nutrients before the final pellet is produced and eaten for the second time. Fermentation by special intestinal microorganisms allows beavers to digest 30% of the cellulose they ingest. The process is called coprophagy and allows the beaver to get all the nutrients they need from their food.


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The most unique beaver behavior by far is their ability to recreate their entire world the way they want it. Beavers are well known for building dams on rivers and streams. No other animals, except for humans, create their entire environmental landscape on their own. Beavers not only build homes in the pond that is created from their dams but they also build canals to float building materials that are difficult for them to haul overland. Beavers are master builders placing vertical poles first then filling in the gaps between the poles with the crisscross of meticulously placed branches. Beavers improve the water systems and act as a keystone species in an active system by creating wetlands used by many other species. Beaver dams also protect them against predators and provide access to food during the winter. Beavers work at night carrying mud, stones and timber between their teeth. Beavers may create a series of dams along one River. Beavers cover their lodges each autumn with fresh mud that freezes when frost arrives and becomes as hard as stone. The beaver lodges have underwater entrances that are nearlyimpossible for other animals to get inside. Beavers have an excellent sense of smell, hearing and touch. They use these three senses to interact with the world. Beavers have terrible vision because their eyes are very small and their vision is not accurate. Beavers cannot see well above water. Beavers have an extra eyelid called a nictating membrane that protects their eyes and enables them to see underwater. The beaver sense of smell is vital for finding food and identifying members of its own family. Their nose and ears have a special inner flap that seals out water automatically when it touches water. They have a special passage from their nose to their throats that connect to the upper lungs. This allows the beaver to chew and carry wood at the same time. This also allows the beaver to hold its breath for up to 15 minutes underwater. Beavers have very small ears but they're hearing is excellent. They have oversized auditory canals that allow them to pick up not only sounds but vibrations underwater. Beavers are well known for their alarm signals. When beavers are startled or frightened they will use their large tales to slap the water to warn others over great distances above and below the water of danger. All the surrounding beavers will get to water as quickly as they can because they are so slow on land but very fast in the water. Once submerged in the water beavers will dive as deeply as they can and wait for predators to pass.