Species of the Week: The North American Beaver

Photo by Adam Kalab

For our #SpeciesOfTheWeek this time around, we turn to Canada’s national symbol, the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis). As the largest rodent in Canada, these semi-aquatic herbivores are easily identified. A beaver’s most notable feature is its large, flat, paddle-like tail. It helps to propel them while swimming, but can also be used as an alarm call, making a loud clap when slapped against the surface of the water. Additionally, they have webbed hind feet to help them swim, and unwebbed front paws that are extremely dexterous. As you likely know, beavers are known for chewing down trees and building dams. This is in part because their teeth grow continuously throughout their entire lives, so they must chew on trees to keep their teeth from getting too long. Beavers have also recently been recognized as keystone species because their dams actively change ecosystems and create habitats for many other species. Here at Murphys Point, beavers can commonly be seen in the pond on the Lally loop hiking trail, as well as other bodies of water. Have you ever noticed one of their dams here at the park?

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