People take a lot of care to refrigerate and freeze food in their homes. Humans have moved far beyond the ice box and into the modern age with refrigerators so advanced they can connect to the Internet and tell you what food you need to pick up at the grocery. If you’re a beaver, though, it turns out that you can just stick your favorite winter food — trees — under a stream bed for all-season refrigeration. No modem required.
This knowledge comes according to an Animal Planet video from its Fooled By Nature series. In addition to speaking about the intricacies of how zebra stripes fool predators and how lions hunt and scavenge, the series shows how beavers construct their dams as both bastions of security and seasonal markets.
Beavers begin building their dams months before winter arrives. A family of beavers begins building with stones and then move on to wood to finish the operation. Each beaver, the video says, it capable of moving up to 500 pounds of material each day in order to create a deep lake worthy of acting as both a home and refrigerator.
First, the beavers begin stretching their dam across part of a river to cause water to back up in the surrounding area. This leads to the formation of a deep central territory as well as water channels. Those channels give the beavers access to the trees that surround the lake, and they also provide them with cover from predators such as bears.
Each beaver will cut down more than 200 trees a year while building the dam and collecting food for storage. The group uses their sharp teeth to cut down and eat the trees. What they cannot eat during this dam building process they store underwater below the expanse they have constructed. The cold water serves to preserve the trees and give the beavers easy access to that necessary food source while they live and raise their young throughout the several cold months.
Despite some odd animations and corny dialogue, the Animal Planet video is packed full of information about how the beavers live their lives. In only three minutes, it shows the entire two-month process of construction from humble beginning to 300-foot masterpiece. It is definitely worth a look during a work break after you grab something quick from the fridge.
Image courtesy of Vikte via Wikimedia Commons (Caption: A beaver dam blocks up a drainage ditch in Lithuania.)