Known for its size, beavers are the largest rodents in the world. It has sharp claws and a huge two front teeth that are shaped like chisels. They also have strong jaws, and with the combination of a strong jaw and two front teeth, this animal can take down a tree to build its home.
More unique characteristics of a beaver are also their webbed feet that they can use to dive and swim in rivers. By the way, did you know the difference between an otter and a beaver? If not, feel free to check out our other article.
Besides its physical attributes, beavers are also known for being nature’s architects. These animals are able to build a structure known as a dam across a river with just nothing but sticks and other natural things.
This its intelligence, a group of beavers would bring down a tree with their teeth, and then build a “bridge-like structure” that has several reasons.
These animals can be found all over the world. From Europe to Asia and even America. But now, they only live in a small population and native animals of Europe. One factor that is also because of its environment. Beavers only leave in swamps or humid places filled with water.
Now specifically speaking, beavers build dams by first making the base of the structure. The base of the structure requires a long log that will reach from one side to the other side of the river.
This will slow down the water and divert the pressure. Next, the beavers gather rocks, stones, sticks, leaves, grass and anything else they could find to reinforce the structure of the dam. The dam will have an average height of almost 2 meters and it has a thickness of 1 meter.
- For shelter and home
The most basic reason for a beaver to build dams is for shelter. The dams are built with tens to hundreds of sticks placed in a pattern. As a result, the dam will slow down the water flow of rivers and the beavers can build a nest nearby the dam.
This dam will also last for quite some time, so the homes of these beavers are secured. Even if the dam is damaged, the beavers will be able to fix it by adding more structure and sticks from trees.
- Food and nutrition
Dams that are built by beavers have a strong impact on its surrounding. Hence, beavers are also categorized as keystone species, which means that these animals play a great role in nature.
By constructing a dam-like structure, the beavers are altering the nature surrounding it. It would create new habitats for animals and plants that live in the nearby areas. When a dam is constructed, they create wetlands that are semi-wet.
This wetland will attract animals such as ducks, small fishes, frogs, and other creatures. A new habitat will be formed and a new tiny ecosystem is created.
By doing this, the beavers create their food farm and they can consume more food. Having their food farm or a mini habitat for new animals would also open up to more varieties of food that it can choose from.
- To store food for winter
During wintertime, beavers won’t have privileges like us humans. They don’t have their refrigerator, so they will make the most out of their dam. The nest they build near the dams is the perfect place to store food.
The food will not be taken by another animal, and that there will be plenty of space to keep the food during the entire winter. So that is how a beaver prepares for winter and survives coldness.
- To protect themselves from predators
Another common reason to build a dam is to escape or hide from predators. These predators would be carnivorous animals such as wolves, foxes, coyotes or even birds.
One reason for this is because the predators would not be brave enough to follow these beavers to the dam. After all, they are scared of the water. Hence, a dam makes a great hiding spot for beavers to stay away from danger.
- As a clean filtration system
Last but not least, is a very unique reason behind a dam. From the information above, you might know that dams are useful for the species that live nearby, well dams are also useful in water pollution control.
Due to the thickness of the dam, a dam can filter the river water. This will cleanse the water passing by from toxins, or trash and anything else that are harmful to the environment. This is also the main reason how dams benefit the ecosystem.