Beavers are the biggest member of the rodent family in Canada. An average adult beaver weighs about 23 kg. Each beaver colony consists of an adult pair and their young from the previous two years. Only family members are welcome in the colony territory – all strange beavers get chased away. Young beavers leave their home colony when they reach the age of two. Beavers spend much of their active time in water.
The Maxwell Lake Beaver Colony has lived here for more than 20 years. If you remain still you may be rewarded with a close view of their daily lives. Beavers are mainly active at night so the best time to see them is in the evening or early morning.
Beavers build dams to form stable ponds that protect the beavers from predators and give them access to their food all year long. Each fall beavers cut deciduous shrubs and trees and store them in a floating food cache near their lodge. All winter long the beavers swim out under the ice to the cache and bring branches back into the lodge where they eat the bark and shred the wood for bedding. Their favorite food is the bark and twigs of trembling aspen.
SO YOU THINK YOU SAW A BABY BEAVER?
LOOK CLOSELY. You may have seen a muskrat, the smaller cousin of the beaver. Muskrats have a long slender tail instead of the broad flat tail on beavers. Muskrats scull their tail when they are swimming – if you see a tail moving behind a swimming animal it is probably a
muskrat. Like many other species muskrats share the pond habitat created by beavers. Muskrats eat aquatic vegetation and may even
share food and accommodations with the resident beavers.
Did You Know? Beavers were a source of food and fur for Aboriginal peoples, and European demand for beaver fur was a major factor in the early development of Canada. This Canadian heritage symbol is recognized on the five cent coin.