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Beavers Gathering & Storing Winter Food Supply

10-15-13  beaver winter food supply pile 292(Part 3 of 3 Beaver posts)
In the fall, beavers spend weeks cutting, transporting and piling sticks and branches whose bark, twigs and leaves will hopefully provide them with sustenance through the winter. With no access to land once ice forms, beavers rely on the food that they have had the foresight to store on the bottom of the pond in the fall, as close to the main entrance to their lodge as possible. Initially the beavers dive down and stick the butt end of the branches into the mud. Once anchored, these branches form the base of a growing pile which often sticks out above the surface of the pond. (The portion of the pile above the water is not accessible to the beavers once the pond freezes.) According to beaver biologist Leonard Lee Rue, a beaver colony needs to store between 1,500 and 2,500 pounds of edible bark, twigs and leaves (this weight doesn’t include the wood, as they don’t eat wood) if it is to sustain them through the winter. As one would suspect, southern beavers do not need nor make winter food supply piles.

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2 responses

  1. dellwvt

    1,500 to 2,500 pounds of edible bark, twigs, and leaves? Holy cow! That doesn’t seem possible. (Not that I’m doubting what you say. I’m just totally amazed!) How many beavers does that support?

    October 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    • A lodge usually holds two parents, 2-4 yearlings and 2-4 newborns (this year’s young). Beavers stay with their parents until they’re about 2 and the mother is about to give birth, at which time they leave the lodge and head out on their own. So, in answer to your question, a lodge can easily house 6-10 beavers.

      October 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

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