Extinct in the UK for 400 years, the Great British beaver had been merely a conservationist’s dream until they were re-introduced to Scotland in 2009. And a year later the first of the buck-toothed mammals to be born in the wild since their re-introduction were spotted in Argyll, Scotland.
Here are 10 facts you might not know about our furry companions:
- They have a third transparent eyelidthat helps them see underwater.
- When they fell a tree they waste nothing, systematically eating the bark and buds before cutting up branches and sections of the trunk to carry for use in dams or lodges.
- They can remain underwater without breathing for up to 15 minutes and swim up to 5 mph.
- If a beaver is hissing it’s best to steer clear, it may be frightened.
- Although beavers are social animals, they are lone engineers and work independently with little contact with each other.
- As with all rodents, a beaver’s front teeth never stop growing.
- In the USA, beaver damage costs around $100 million in property costs every year.
- Luckily dam-building can prevent floods as well as cause them: the wetlands that dams maintain soak up floodwaters, prevent erosion and create an ecosystem that breaks down pesticides.
- A beaver’s tail is a little like a Swiss Army knife: it is used as a rudder, a third leg while standing upright, as a lever to drag branches and can be slapped on the water to warn other beavers of danger.
- Folklore holds that beaver tail was a delicacy among mountain hunters in Canada. US President Barack Obama ate one on a recent trip to Ottawa, though his was made of wholewheat dough.