**UPDATE** I have the weirdest friends, several of whom wanted to make sure this video was included on the blog. Here ya go, freaks.
Since Veteran’s Day was a mid-week day off, and since Ellison and I are living a new healthy lifestyle, we decided to head out for a hike to Fort Wildlife Preserve, one of the Audubon Society of RI preserves. It also happens to be the home of a beaver that we’ve never seen, but which taunts us by leaving signs of its presence across the trail while we’re on the far end, such that we see them on the way back. (An aside – we were happy to see a friend of the blog in the sign-in log!)
This time I could tell we were hot on its tracks. There were a whole bunch of recently felled trees, including some large ones. We learned on last week’s educational evening beave hike that beavers’ teeth never stop growing, so they chew on larger trees often without intending to fell them, but rather to gnaw down the end of their teeth.
A little farther on, a beaver lodge appears to have been recently maintained.The lodge is a mud-covered mound of sticks, which the beavers build as a solid mass, then chew their way to hollow out the middle. The entrance is under water so they can jump right in, and they store foliage under water for winter dining. Beavers don’t clean house so every so often they have to move lodges. Sometimes they try to recycle a lodge that has lain dormant for a while, which appears to be the case in this one – it’s not a new build, but a reno with some fresh mud and new sticks.
Toward the end of the loop, we came across a large number of slim trees that were very freshly chewed. Though we didn’t hear the beaver, it looked like it may have been mid-gnaw when we disturbed them. Beavers have a good sense of smell and often use it to avoid enemies – good thinking for creatures that are pretty waddley on land.
We didn’t ever come across the beaver directly, but we heard it slapping its tail (a warning sign) in the pond. Maybe next time…