More from my tour of wild Concord, (June 29 post):
We came across this beaver lodge in the Estabrook Woods and it was a marvel to behold. These shelters have underwater entrances and beavers build them from the inside out using mud, grass, and branches. Most predators find it too difficult to break through the complex network of branches and mud so the beavers stay protected. Beavers that live in rivers do not usually build lodges instead they create burrows out of the mud along riverbanks. Some beavers build in existing lakes while others build in the newly formed ponds that they create with dams.
Beavers' ability to change the landscape is second only to humans. Mostly nocturnal but also active at dawn and dusk, adults may weigh over 40 pounds, and beavers mate for life during their third year. Both parents care for the kits (usually one to four) that are born in the spring. The young normally stay with their parents for two years, and yearlings act as babysitters for the new litter.
Beavers love to eat the bark and leaves from the trees that they fell. Their favorite trees are aspens but they will also eat birch, alder, willow, and mountain maple. They usually prefer trees between 2-6 inches in diameter. A busy beaver can chew through a 5 inch willow tree in 3 minutes! With the leftover wood they create dams and lodges.
I was not surprised to learn that wildlife rehabilitators have found beavers to be gentle, reasoning beings who enjoy playing practical jokes. An Indian word for "beaver-like" also means "affable." Once weaned, their favorite foods include water lily tubers, clover, apples and the leaves and green bark (cambium) from aspen and other fast-growing trees.
Source: All About Beavers