The American Beaver
WHAT ORANGE-TOOTHED CRITTER IS OBSESSED WITH OVERNIGHT CONSTRUCTION IN WETLANDS PARK? (Part I)
The very dry Mohave desert around Las Vegas seems to be an odd home for an animal that depends on water and water-loving trees like willows and cottonwoods for its living. Surprise! The aquatic American Beaver’s (Castor canadensis’s) natural range includes the Colorado River and its tributaries, and now beavers are well established in Clark County Wetlands Park.
The beaver is North America’s largest rodent, up to four feet long, and weighing up to 70 pounds. Its incisor teeth are long, orange, and ever-growing (much like your fingernails). Its tail is flat and leathery. Its two-part coat features long outer guard hairs that flatten when wet to protect the fine, dense undercoat. It has nose valves that shut automatically when it submerges underwater, and oversized lungs that allow it to stay that way for 15 minutes.
Beavers really are busy, ambitious, and territorial! These tireless nocturnal engineers are laser-focused on constructing dams to create ponds. In the Clark County Nature Preserve, beaver construction gangs are often at odds with the Park’s human maintenance team. The beavers dam streams and pond outflows to their liking at night, with the Park’s maintenance people unblocking the carefully engineered waterways by day!
Please enjoy this great video about our enterprising “Critter-Friend,” compliments of National Geographic: