An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Beavers Grooming

11-19-14  beavers grooming 241 Beavers are constantly grooming and oiling their fur in order to keep it waterproof. To groom itself, a beaver usually sits upright with its tail between its back legs protruding in front of it, exposing the cloaca – a single opening for all the functions of the scent, reproductive and excretory organs. After the beaver climbs out of the water onto land, it often shakes its head and scrubs its ears and face. Then it thoroughly scrubs its shoulders and belly. The beaver gets oil from its inverted oil glands with its front feet, and then rubs it all over its body, using both front and hind feet. The second toe of each hind foot has a split nail (see insert) which the beaver uses to distribute the waterproofing oil and to comb debris out of its fur. Without this coating of oil on their fur, beavers would soon become water soaked and would not be able to tolerate the cold water.

In this photograph, perhaps for the last time outside of their lodge before their pond freezes, beavers engage in a practice known as “mutual grooming” during which they attend to each other’s coat using their teeth instead of their feet as combing utensils. (Photo: adult on left, offspring on right)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.


6 responses

  1. Penny March

    Aren’t beavers placental mammals?

    November 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm

  2. Judy Walls

    What a beautiful composition–the frost on the rocks, weeds and trees, and the ripples and shadows in the water. You can feel the cold!

    November 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm

  3. Sara DeMont

    Grooming each other……fascinating!

    November 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm

  4. Jennifer Z. Woodard

    Self-made water repellant. Fascinating!

    Carpe diem, Jennifer


    November 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

  5. Such a fascinating animal – and so beneficial to other species.

    November 20, 2014 at 2:52 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s