Quick, name the largest rodent that lives in North America and even populates the lakes around Camp Foley. If you guessed the beaver you are correct! It may come as a surprise, but yes the beaver is actually a rodent and belongs to the same family as woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, and even prairie dogs. In fact, the beaver is the second-largest living rodent in the world. Only the capybara of South America is larger. If you have ever taken a canoe trip to Hidden Lake you’ve probably seen the large beaver lodge and the numerous beaver-gnawed trees.
|Check out those teeth!
The beaver, from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail, can reach a length of 5 feet and weigh up to 90 pounds! Though on average, beavers are roughly 3 feet long and weigh around 45 pounds. Beavers usually sport a dark brown pelt (the skin and fur of an animal) and are best characterized by a large, flat paddle-shaped tail and enormous orange incisors (the narrowly edged teeth in the front of the mouth).
The beaver spends the majority of its life in the water and has become perfectly adapted to its aquatic environment. Its large tail and webbed feet, similar to the feet of ducks, gift the beaver with unmatched swimming power. Additionally, the beaver’s nose and ear valves shut as it submerges, and a membrane layer slides over the beaver’s eyes and acts as natural goggles. This allows the beaver to remain underwater for over 20 minutes at a time!
|Beaver lodge on Hidden Lake.
Contrary to popular belief, the structure a beaver lives in is called a lodge, not a dam. A dam is a structure used to block the flow of a stream. This blockage helps to create a “beaver-made” pond in which the beaver family will build its lodge. Camp Foley’s family of beavers have not built any damns, they instead live in a natural pond that we call Hidden Lake.
For more information on beavers, visit the DNR website.