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Beaver Scent Mound

 Beavers, like many mammals, communicate with chemical signals.  In scent marking, beavers actually build a mound of mud on which to place their scent. First they dive down to the bottom of their pond, dig up an armful of mud with their front feet and swim to shore with the mud held against their chest.  Walking on to the shore on its two front legs, the beaver deposits this mud next to the water.  Beaver scent mounds can be quite small, or as high as three feet or more, depending on how many loads of mud they contain. The beaver straddles this pile of mud and applies castoreum from its castor glands, or anal gland secretions, or both.  The purpose of building a mound is to elevate the odor (helps with scent dispersal), to intensify the odor by putting it on a moist substrate, and to protect it from flooding when the pond level fluctuates.  Beavers build most of their scent mounds in the spring, when young beavers are dispersing and claiming new ponds, but I have found several fresh ones this fall, including the one in the photograph. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

 

2 responses

  1. Carlene Squires

    Fascinating! Next time I’m in the vicinity of an active beaver pond, I will look for these mounds.

    November 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm

  2. Brita Bergland

    I want to congratulate you on winning the National Book Award. It is certainly well deserved. Thank you so much for your blog as well. You enrich my life.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

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