9. The Builders: Beavers
The saying “busy as a beaver” might take on an entirely new meaning when you consider how active beavers truly are. Considered nature’s engineers, these long-toothed mammals are very adept at and diligent about building dams in rivers or streams to create ponds suitable for their lodging needs. Beginning in late summer and into the fall, beavers begin preparing their homes for winter. They gather wood by using their tails to prop them up while they chip away at tree trunks with their teeth. Once a tree has broken off from the trunk, the beaver breaks it down into smaller pieces that are more manageable to carry back to the location they plan to build on. Laying the sticks into the mud, they stack layers of wood until the dam is built. But a beaver’s job isn’t done once the dam is complete. It also works to dig out its living quarters, called a lodge, and stockpiles wood to eat during the long winter months. Although beaver dams are a headache for property owners that don’t want running streams blocked, the beaver does provide a useful service to other creatures like ducks and moose, which use the ponds as a water source.