Week of November 28 – December 4, 2021
by Anna Stunkel, Environmental Educator
Beavers are incredible ecosystem engineers, and their dams create habitats for a great variety of other living things. By altering the flow of water and allowing beaver ponds to form, they create living space for waterfowl, amphibians, aquatic plants, and more. You may have seen beavers swimming around ponds in the warmer months, but have you ever thought about where they go during the winter?
Beaver dams are formed to create beaver pond habitat, while lodges are tall, dome-shaped structures where beaver families live. As the temperatures drop, family groups of beavers gather inside their warm and cozy lodges. Five or six beavers may huddle together in a single lodge, which allows plenty of body heat to warm their home. A family often consists of two parents, a few young born the previous year, and a few young born that spring. The lodge easily traps heat because it’s so enclosed, with one small air hole at the top. In winter, hoar frost forms on the top of the lodge near this opening from the beavers’ breath. Sometimes you may even be able to spot steam rising from the top of an active lodge.
Beavers also store a lot of food before the colder weather hits, and they will even gather a raft of woody vegetation to keep near their lodge. Their tails store plenty of fat that helps them to get through the winter months.
To learn more about the animals that call beaver ponds home, check out our video, “Behind the Scenes with Beavers”, on the Nature in Your Hands…at Home section of our website at https://baltimorewoods.org/animals-in-nature-videos/
If you have any questions about beavers and their wintertime habits, send them to us at [email protected] and our education team will reply.