Several years ago I worked at a wilderness camp for the summer. Some beavers kept flooding one area of land and toppling nearby trees, so I voted myself into a committee of one to get rid of the problem. With mattocks in hand, I marched to their dam, and, with great effort, hack a hole in it. The next day the dam was fixed. I repeated my destruction. Each day it was the same story. By the end of a week of this, I realized they weren’t giving up but we were losing many small trees in the area. The beavers had earned their reputation for hard work and the proverb, ‘busy as a beaver.’
Are Beavers Really That Beneficial?
Beavers are more than just hard working. They are perfectly designed for the hard work they do. Their oil-coated double layer fur is so dense, water rarely gets to their skin. This fur has been for centuries the main reason this slow moving rodent was hunted, almost to extinction. People wore the fur, but also made perfumes and medicines from the musk glands, and ate the tail. But for the beaver, the fur and a layer of fat kept him warm all winter long.
Are They the World’s Largest Rodent?
A beaver might live for 19 years (though 8 is more common), and weigh 60 pounds, growing to a length of four feet. It is second only to South America’s capybara as the world’s largest rodent. Beavers mate for life and are very social animals, living and working together with other beavers. Beavers eat fresh bark, water plants, berries, and fruit. Their large front teeth help them chew through the bark of trees, both to build their lodge and dam, and to eat the bark and wood
What Is Their Life Like?
A normal litter is 2 to 4 kits but they stay around for two years before setting off on their own. That means Mom has at home both older offspring and newborns at one time, quite a bit of work for her. When he finally leaves home, the first task of the mature beaver is to find a mate, then move to a new area and build a hut. If the new home is on a stream, he will build his famous dam to slow the water and guarantee the depth.
The hut has more than one entrance but is entered only from under water. This way the beaver is safe from predators and can leave the hut in the winter to get more sticks, even when the pond is frozen. A hole in the middle of the hut allows for ventilation for himself and his family.
Made for the Job
Since beavers spend most of their time in the water, God has given them special features for this. Transparent eyelids allows them to see under water. Their back feet are webbed to aid in swimming, but their front paws are more suited for holding and carrying sticks and mud. The two inner claws of the beaver have a split toenail, used to groom himself and spread the oil on his fur. He also has a flap of skin that covers his throat while eating under water. The large lungs and liver of the beaver allow him to store more oxygen in his blood, and his heart beats more slowly when he dives. The paddle tail is perfectly designed for swimming and carrying mud to the dam or hut.
Since the beaver is a rodent, his front teeth continue to grow and need to be worn down. This he does by his insatiable appetite for trees, usually one to two inches in diameter, making beavers a nuisance in some areas. The sticks, especially aspen, are stored and eaten in the winter, used for dam building, and used for hut building.
Everything about the beaver is perfectly designed for what he does. When you have design, you must have a designer. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:3).