The beavers in Guardian of Giria are Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber).
- There is no specific name for adults of each sex. Juveniles are called kits.
- Like squirrels, beavers are members of the rodent family. Eurasian beavers are the largest rodents in Europe. They are slightly larger than the North American beaver. Females are as large, or sometimes even larger, than males of the same age.
- Beaver’s mate for life. Litters are mostly born in May and contain 2-6 kits. Both males and females take part in caring for kits.
- Offspring stay with their parents until they are 2 years old and typically start to reproduce when they are 3 years old.
- Beavers are herbivores. They store branches in rivers during autumn to eat during winter. They will also gnaw part-way through a tree trunk so that it is easy to fell during winter if they need extra food. They are primarily nocturnal but do some tree felling and dam building during the day. They favour willow, alder, birch, maple and cherry trees.
- Beavers live in lodges built of mud and piles of branches. The entrance to the lodge is usually under water, keeping the beavers save from predators. Beavers build a dam to create a pond in which they then build their lodge. They also use the ponds to hide branches for winter so they have access to food even if the pond freezes over.
- Kits and yearlings often mimic the behaviour of their parents in building dams and lodges, but they aren’t really much help – they don’t do a very good job!
- Beavers can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes.
- They have poor eyesight but a keen sense of hearing, smell and touch.
- They can live up to 25 years in the wild.
- Their teeth are orange due to high iron content in their diet.
- They are very territorial, building scent heaps around their territory. They put a lot of work and time into creating their environment and will defend it violently if necessary.
- When startled, beavers dive underwater, hitting the surface of the water hard with their tail in a behaviour known as a “warning slap”. The nose of the slap can be heard over considerable distances.
For more information, see here.
Cross-section of beaver lodge showing underwater entrance.