In these days of political strife and global conflict, it is immensely reaffirming to see that not all species are engaged in this craziness. Yes, predators do, of necessity, kill prey, and there are disputes over territory and mates, and countless other acts of aggression in the natural world which I often write about, but today I choose to celebrate the cooperation between members of the same species that my camera occasionally captures. These two beavers are participating in “mutual grooming” – a practice that involves using their incisors to remove debris as well as increase the insulating capacity of each other’s coat .
Beavers are fastidious about keeping their coats clean, well-aligned and waterproofed. (Their life actually depends on it, as they would suffer from the cold water in winter without the latter.) They spend an immense amount of time grooming themselves, applying waterproofing oil from their anal glands to their coats with front and back feet and combing sticks, parasites, etc. out of their fur (a split toe on each of their hind feet enhances this endeavor) Research shows that a primary function of grooming is maintaining an insulating layer of air between their hair and skin. Upon occasion they perform this act for each other, probably in an effort to reach spots that self-grooming can’t. Lucky are those who have observed this seemingly tender moment between two beavers.
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