Why Do Beavers Build The Most Amazing Dams?

why do beavers build dams

A beaver dam in Utah. Photo: Tom Kelly/Flicker.

 

Ever wonder why beavers build dams? I know, it is not something you think about every day. But when you do…Beavers want to protect their families just like we do which is one reason we love them. To learn more about North America’s largest rodent and why they remind us of mini submarines, read our blog “Beavers”.

Beavers have lots of predators. Everything from bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles, mountain lions and lots of other animals who would like to eat the beavers. And to learn more about some of these predators, read our blogs “Gray Wolves”, “Red Wolves” and “Black Bears”.

Because they are slow-moving on land, but excellent swimmers, they build their houses, called lodges, in the water. The dams create ponds that slow the water down so it doesn’t wash away their house. And the predators can’t get to them since their lodges have underwater entrances. How clever!

How Do Beavers Make Dams & Lodges?

Beavers are often called ecological engineers. They are one of the few animals to manipulate their environment in order to survive. Pretty smart.

So beavers construct dams to keep their lodges safe. Why else do beavers build dams? 

 

why do beavers build dams

Beavers love willow branches and will store them at the bottom of their pond for winter eating.

Some Of The Reasons For Beaver Dams

During winter, many beaver ponds freeze over. Beavers don’t want to leave their lodges to gather food since they are targets for all those hungry predators. So they store food at the bottom of the pond. But how?

Gathering twigs of fallen trees, they push the sticks in the mud of their pond until ready to harvest and eat. When they need food, they simply swim out of their underwater entrance and bring the twigs back to their lodge.

Are Dams Beneficial To The Environment?

In the short term, beaver dams sometimes cause unwanted flooding. And they cut down trees helping prevent erosion on stream banks. That’s the bad but wait, there is so much good…

Their dams create wetlands which are critical habitat for thousands of species. One US Fish & Wildlife estimate says over 60% of threatened species rely on wetlands to survive. As a result, beavers are considered a keystone species. To learn about keystone species, read our blog “What Is A Keystone Species?”

Wetlands also help reduce forest fires since the earth is too wet to burn. And they improve water quality by purifying polluted waters and alleviate droughts. No wonder wetlands have been called the planet’s most valuable land-based ecosystem.

why do beavers build dams

Beavers build dams and create both ponds and wetlands.

 

why do beavers build dams

Beavers build dams to create ponds in which they can build their houses to keep their families safe. Illustration: Encyclopedia Britannica

Help Spread The Word About Our Beaver Engineers

Now that we understand how important beavers are to creating much-needed wetlands, we can share their engineering feats with all of our friends, especially on social media.

Not only do they build dams, protect their families, and create wetlands, but they are some of the smartest, hardest-working animals we know. We think they are one of our true animal heroes, with great superpowers!

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