Why do beavers build dams? © Getty Images

Why do beavers build dams?

Humans aren’t the only animals to reshape the surrounding landscape to suit their needs.

Asked by: Sarah Connors, Glasgow


Dam-building is synonymous with beavers, the ultimate aquatic engineers. Using branches from trees they have felled, these large rodents dam lakes to create moat-like ponds of still water where they construct islands known as ‘conical lodges’ out of timber, mud and rocks. The body of water surrounding the lodges provides protection from predators – resident beavers enter and exit their sophisticated homes incognito via water-filled tunnels leading from the lodges to the pond. The largest lodge, found in Alberta, Canada, measures over 500m in length – though contrary to a widely circulated myth, it is not visible from space! In deep or fast-moving water areas, beavers simply excavate into river banks and set up home there instead.


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