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Beavers Engaging In Mutual Grooming

8-8-16 mutual grooming 084

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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8 responses

  1. janetpesaturo

    Gorgeous photo, Mary. I have a few trail cam videos showing moments of tenderness between raccoons and between otters as well. Also I was just reading about not only tolerance, but cooperation, between 2 DIFFERENT species: the coyote and the badger (they sometimes hunt cooperatively). There’s still a lot for us to learn about animal behavior. For some reason it has been easier for us humans to observe and acknowledge aggression rather than cooperation in animals.

    August 8, 2016 at 10:39 am

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    Lucky are you, and lucky are all of us to have you sharing your vision.

    August 8, 2016 at 11:46 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    Awwww. I wonder if they are related…..or maybe almost to be.

    August 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    • They are a monogamous pair!

      August 8, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      • Alice Pratt

        And how do animals even “do” that, when most “humans can’t or prefer not to 😳”

        August 8, 2016 at 6:31 pm

  4. Marilyn


    August 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm

  5. Sweet!

    August 8, 2016 at 10:58 pm

  6. nangalland

    so sweet – thank you! >

    August 9, 2016 at 7:15 am

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