Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Single Beaver Dad Gig

Photo courtesy of the Jackson Zoo.
The story about a single beaver dad over on Discovery News yesterday caught my attention. I know plenty of single parents, and it's always a struggle, but I have to say, being a single beaver dad has got to be particularly rough. I don't know how many beavers you've known, but that "Busy as a..." saying is seriously based on truth. There's a reason these animals bond for life, because it takes a team for them to effectively raise a family.

Sadly, Mr. Single Beaver Dad of a wild colony in Martinez, California, lost his mate to an infection.  After many years as a pair, having raised twelve kits together, he was left alone with three babies. But, he doesn't just have to find them food and keep them safe. He literally has to build their home and tend it every single day to keep his lodge neat and tidy and free of leaks, not to mention do his job on the rest of the dam construction to help the colony keep the water level high enough and the fish plentiful where they live. All this, plus raising and teaching his three young how to be the best beavers they can be. And, apparently he's doing a fantastic job. All three kits have survived thus far. You can see the whole story along with interviews from those in the field observing, and even view a video of him over at Discovery News.

For me, the story immediately brought to mind the family of wild beavers at the NC Zoo who moved in next to our North American Swamp exhibit one year and built their lodge directly underneath the visitor boardwalk. They, too, raised three young as we watched every day, fascinated by all the work the pair of beavers had to do to care for and teach them. There was this knot in the wood of the walkway that formed a hole, so we could actually see down inside their lodge and catch glimpses of the kits indoors while the parents were out taking care of business. I'll never forget the first day I got to see the family out swimming around the lake together. It was very cool. As the kits grew, the lodge would get seriously noisy at times. They're very vocal babies. I couldn't help but imagine this single beaver dad coming home after a long day of construction work, having literally done the work of two, to listen to all that racket all night. Poor guy probably never got any sleep.

Anyway, I found this cool video from the rehabers at Claws, who rescued two baby beavers from an immanent death sentence, and found a safe home in a zoo for them. The footage is a combination of stills and live video, where you get to see some of the work involved in raising beavers. Wait until you hear how noisy one hungry beaver is. Then, multiply that by three. I propose we offer our single beaver dad some sort of father's day award this year! But, I guess he'll probably be too busy to care much about that. So I'll just say all the best to you and your family, Mr. Beaver.


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Janet said...

Adorable! Beavers are amazing animals that create habitat for many species. We can choose to live with them rather than destroy them.

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