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Beavers Breaking Ice

11-13-17 beaver and ice IMG_4410

We’re right on the verge of when beavers will no longer be able to smell fresh air, see the sun and obtain fresh bark. Until the temperature drops to around 16 degrees F. they continue to break through the thin ice covering their pond. Once the temperature remains in the teens or lower for several days, they no longer try to break through the ice and are sealed under it until spring, unless there’s a mid-winter thaw.

Once beavers are confined by the ice, their activities outside the lodge are minimal. Beavers leave their lodge in winter primarily for three reasons: 1) to swim out to their winter food supply pile and retrieve a branch which they bring back into the lodge to eat, 2) to defecate in the water, and 3) to mate in January or February. Other than these excursions, they spend most of their days in the dark, enduring life in a lodge that has a temperature of about 34 degrees F. (Thanks to Kay and Peter Shumway for photo op.)

16 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    I wonder how much light shines thru all the branches & mud on their lodge, so that their rhythm isn’t totally off.

    November 13, 2017 at 7:37 am

    • Hi Alice,
      I would imagine very little. The only area on a lodge without a thick layer of frozen mud is the vent in the center, and that has lots of branches criss-crossing it. My guess is that it is mighty dark.

      November 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      • Alice Pratt

        Thank you, Mary….this has been their lives for a very long time….and they are surviving… no LED flashlights in their Christmas stockings………

        November 13, 2017 at 5:27 pm

  2. Kevin Ackert

    Awww the poor things!

    From: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Reply-To: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Date: Monday, November 13, 2017 at 7:21 AM To: Kevin Ackert Subject: [New post] Beavers Breaking Ice Mary Holland posted: ” We¹re right on the verge of when beavers will no longer be able to smell fresh air, see the sun and obtain fresh bark. Until the temperature drops to around 16 degrees F. they continue to break through the thin ice covering their pond. Once the temperat”

    November 13, 2017 at 8:04 am

  3. Laurie Spry

    Great question, Alice!

    November 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

  4. Jennifer Waite

    What a wonderful pic, Mary! I think most of us feel like that beaver right about now!

    November 13, 2017 at 9:14 am

  5. Pat

    Oh, wow! What a picture! Glad to know Kay’s beavers are still around.

    November 13, 2017 at 10:43 am

    • Sorry, Pat, that photo wasn’t taken this year. Sadly, the beavers have departed.

      November 13, 2017 at 2:24 pm

  6. Jo

    Love the picture. Does the statement about mating in January and February mean they must swim around and look for a mate at that time? That would seem to use up a lot of energy.

    November 13, 2017 at 11:58 am

    • They are typically mating with their mate, with whom they live, so there isn’t a lot of looking around!

      November 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      • Alice Pratt

        Convenience 😁

        November 13, 2017 at 5:29 pm

  7. Cecelia Blair

    Mary, what happens for “bank beavers”? I wonder how deep those holes are and if they can manage not to get too cold?

    November 13, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    • From the collapsed ones I’ve observed, bank dens aren’t all that deep (they’re above the water level) but the warmth of beavers in a confined area is enough to prevent them from freezing.

      November 13, 2017 at 2:19 pm

  8. Alice Pratt

    So many caring people who are so concerned about wildlife! 😁

    November 13, 2017 at 5:32 pm

  9. Speaking of this very keystone species; “Webinar” today: “Partnering with Beaver to Restore Fish & Wildlife Habitat”

    December 5, 2017 at 10:34 am

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