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Beaver Breaking Ice

There’s a period of time in the fall, and again in the spring, when pond ice is thin enough to break under the pressure of a beaver’s head punching it from underneath, but is not quite hard enough to support the beaver’s weight.  After an audible crack, a beaver’s head emerges from the recently-made hole in the ice, and immediately the beaver lifts its front feet up onto the edge of the ice in front of it and then lunges forward, breaking a path with its body through the ice to where the beaver wishes to go.  Over and over the beaver lunges, pausing periodically to catch its breath.  Why the beaver doesn’t swim under water from point A to point B (beavers can swim up to half a mile underwater, and remain submerged for up to 15 minutes), which would mean having to break through the ice only once, when it gets to where it’s headed, instead of laboriously breaking trail through the ice is unknown to me, but the process is great fun to observe.

5 responses

  1. Oh what a cutie pie. I love the picture. How did you ever see them doing that. It looks like hard work.

    November 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm

  2. What a great picture. How did you ever see them doing that? Why are they breaking the ice?

    November 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    • They’re breaking the ice so that they can breathe while swimming, as opposed to holding their breath under the water. Schuyler suggested that they do this so that they don’t arrive at their destination only to find that they can’t break the ice. I think she’s right on the button.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm

  3. Schuyler Gould

    I’m guessing that the beaver is concerned that he won’t be able to break through the ice from underneath when he gets there.

    November 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

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