In this blog post, one of our nature interpreters talks about finding beavers and evidence of beaver activity at High Park.
Recently, while walking through the park I happened to see a beaver swimming in an area of High Park called the retention ponds. This was an extremely cool sighting as I’d often see clear evidence of beavers chewing on woods and trees during my walks through the area, but had never seen a beaver, yet.
While beavers do call High Park home, these furry creatures are not an extremely common sight. There are a few ways you can tell if a beaver is living in an area of the park. One of the most obvious evidence of beaver activity can usually be found close to water and trees. Beavers love the water and also use it to build their dams in. The water provides protection against predators as the beavers will have to swim under the water to get into its lodge protected by sticks and trees.
This dam can also create new ponds or other bodies of water which can also raise the water level and make it easier for beavers to reach the trees and food they need to survive. Beavers have to use trees to eat as a source of food, to keep their teeth from growing too long, and to use as material to build their lodges and dams.
If you see trees or stumps that have a point to the end of it and no longer have the remaining half, this is a good sign that a beaver chewed around the tree until it got it to tip over. The beaver could then take the tree to the water to build their dams. Having trees close to water is important for beavers to build their lodges and dams, as they will have to drag the wood they find all the way to the water where they build their homes. While it may seem like a lot, beavers can handle an impressive amount of weight with their jaws.
A beaver’s lodge is made of tightly packed trees, sticks, mud, and plants like grasses. Beavers are a monogamous species and the lodges they build can last more than 30 years. The lodge offers good protection during winter months as it keeps beavers safe from predators. A well-built lodge is also very warm and can reach internal temperatures of up to 32°C. This provides a good way to spot a beaver lodge with occupants in the winter as the snow will have melted off the top of the lodge.
In the winter, beavers cannot eat their usual diet of various grasses and plants, and can find a source of food in the bark of trees and sticks. These can be stashed near the lodge for a quick source of food in the winter. Beavers do not hibernate like many other mammals. Rather, their warm lodge and their well-insulated fur keeps them ready for winter.
On your next visit to High Park do stop by and look for the beavers. And don’t forget to share your stories and photos of our furry friends with us. Click here to learn more about the incredible beavers that call High Park home.
Leah is a Nature Interpreter at the High Park Nature Centre. She is currently pursuing her bachelors degree in commerce at Humber College. As an enthusiastic bird watcher, Leah enjoys going on hikes, kayaking, and rock climbing.