Nature's Architects

By Matt A. (Bowdoinham Community School. Grade 4)



One day when I was walking in the woods I came across a skull of an animal. I found out the skull was the bones of a beaver. I picked a beaver to research because I looked in a beaver book and I saw some very interesting facts and pictures about beavers. I also saw a beaver running across the road at the beginning of Cemetery Road near my school. I thought beavers would be interesting animals to study. I researched about beavers and here is what I found. I hope you find beavers interesting too!

Description of Beaver

Beavers are about 3 to 4 feet long. They have webbed feet and a flat thin tail. The weight of a beaver is usually from 40 to 60 pounds. The beaver is a bulky animal that waddles through the woods. Beavers have long hairs called guard hairs. The guard hairs protect the beavers thick fur that is underneath. These furs are heavy and help the beaver stay warm in the icy water. The beaver combs these hairs with its split claw on the hind legs. This helps it stay clean. While the beaver is combing, its hair the glands in its body make oil which helps keep the coat of the beaver clean and shinny.

Beavers have large hind webbed feet that make them swim through the water at 5 miles an hour. The tail of the beaver is scaly and acts as a rudder of a boat. The tail steers the beaver right, left up or down. There are five toes on each foot and there are claws. The beaver's fur is dark brown and the body is stout fat. The beaver is strong and intelligent.


The beaver lives in Canada and northern United States. They can be seen all the time in Maine. They also live in some parts of Europe and Asia. Beavers have changed how they live. The lived on land and they have changed to live in the water. Their nostrils and ears close automatically when they go in the water. Beavers sometimes dig burrows in river banks . If the water is not deep enough, the beavers will change the landscape. They make dams across streams and that keeps the water in and makes it deep for the beaver to live in. Beavers live in small huts called beaver lodges under and above the water. Their huts are made of twigs, and sticks and mud. Beavers stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes and then come up for air.



Beavers eat bark, leaves, roots, twigs. They also eat cottonwood, willow , oak, aspen beach, alder, hickory, and birch trees. They also eat water plants and small shrubs. They eat about two pounds a day. They build shelves for drying off their food. The beaver measures the food it needs for the winter. It also harvest the food and gives it out when it needs it. The beaver conserves the food it finds sometimes by putting it near its lodge to find later to eat. It collects willows in the fall for eating in the winter.

The beaver has to stand on its hind legs and balance with its flat tail to chew wood and gnaw bark It holds the wood with its upper teeth and chews the wood with its lower teeth. It can gnaw through something the size of a rolling pin in about 30 seconds.The beaver's teeth have a hard orange coat that keeps the teeth from breaking. Gnawing wood wears the teeth down. The teeth do grow all the life of the beaver.



Beavers have 2 to 4 babies in spring or summer and never have more than 8 babies. Baby beavers are called kits and weight less than a pound when they are born. The mother trains the babies. A kit is eight or nine inches long and is born with a 3 1/2 inch long tail. They are covered in fur when they are born and make little noises like high squeals. The adults make mumbling sounds and soft nasal sounds and low pitched squeals. Kits are born with huge front teeth. The mother and father beavers live together in the lodge. Beavers are very verbal with their children and are disciplined. They spank their children when they do not do the right things. Beavers mature in about 2-3 years and live about 16 years.


Predator or Prey

The beaver does not eat any meat so it becomes a prey. Some of the animals that prey on the beaver are bears and wolves. Other animals that prey on beavers are lynx,otters, minks, coyotes and bobcats. The beavers build their homes in the middle of ponds and streams in sort of an island and are usually safe there. The beaver lodges have tunnels that lead underwater so the the beavers can escape directly into the water to get away from their enemies. Beavers signal with their tail by splashing it when danger is near. They warn other beavers in that way.

When a beaver is out of the water they are very dangerous and they can attack. The beaver knows how to protect itself.

People are the biggest enemy beavers have. Marshes get drained and beavers loose their homes and food. Sometimes land is cleared to build more houses for people and the beaver does not have enough logs. Beavers die when people pollute the water with bad chemicals.

Beavers were nearly extinct in the colonial times because people trapped them for coats and hats made from their really thick fur.


Hibernate / Migrate

During the winter beavers seal their dams with mud. Beavers fill the outside of their hut with mud so the winter wind and rain can't get in. The beavers build a room in their lodge that is above the water and then cover the floor with soft grass. They sort of hibernate there in the winter. Some beavers burrow into the bank of a pond instead of building a lodge. The lodges have some loose sticks at the top for breath holes for the beaver. When they need food the go through one of their tunnels and get food or sometimes they store the food in the lodge. The do not sleep all the time in the winter. They seem to continue their life underwater.

Other Interesting Facts

-Beavers are some of the nature's best architects.

-They can stay under water for 15 minutes.

-Beavers are one of the largest American rodents.

-Beavers are nocturnal.

-In fall the beaver works extra hard to get its dam ready for winter.

- Beavers are very clean animals. They do not go to the bathroom in the lodge; they build separate houses for this.

- There are many things the beavers do that people also do.

- Beavers learned they would survive longer if they worked at night and stayed out of sight at day time.

-When beavers argue the hiss and lunge at each other.

-Beaver families work to together on large trees.



I have finished my report on beavers. It took me a long time to do. I had fun learning about beavers. I also had fun making my beaver. I learned many things I did not know. They have orange teeth that are two inches long. Beavers are one of the biggest rodents in the United States and are one intelligent animal. They are architects and almost human-like. The most I like about the beavers is their dams and how they build them. I hope you enjoyed reading about my beavers.



Beavers, U of Michigan Animal Diversity Web