Why Do Beavers Build Dams? Learn Fun Facts About Wetland Rodent

Oluwatosin Michael
Oct 12, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Read on to understand why beavers build dams.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

In our daily life, we come across many types of rodents, beavers are the second-largest rodents which means they are related to rats, they look small but are very large and keystone species.

They live largely in areas where there is an availability of freshwaters i.e rivers. North America hosts the largest concentration of beavers in the world, near ponds and river streams and these animals are also famous for their natural engineering skills.

Behavior-wise, we can assume that beavers live in small communities as living in groups protects them from their primary predator, wolves, and bears.

They prey on freshwater fish due to their availability in beaver concentrated habitats and their aquatic tendency as good swimmers in underwater and deep waters, they even store food in their lodges hunting fish and gathering food through their underwater entrance. During winters, beavers don't hibernate.

Rather they spend their time in small lodges and dams that they are natural engineers for using soil, stones, tree branches, and mud.

Beavers are also good architects as underwater entrances can be found in their lodges.

They build dams to stop the flow of water in their territories which reduces the chances of flooding as dams create a wall between their lodges and water from river streams or ponds, these beaver dams are close to rivers or ponds.

Beavers also have good management skills as they store food i.e fish, plants to keep them warm even though they have fur winter in wetlands that are very cold.

During winter, beavers usually don't visit land often as the wildlife and environmental change during winter bears and wolves not only eat fish but animals like beavers too, this is when their engineering and dam-building skills come in handy.

We will emphasize the major topic later on i.e why do beavers build dams.

A short answer as to why beavers build dams is they build beaver dams to survive winter and reduce flooding which changes their ecosystem and protects their lodges, these beaver dams are not built-in deep waters.

These natural engineers are also really good underwater or deep water swimmers hunting fish in streams with their teeth. These natural engineers have found extraordinary ways to increase protection from wildlife and their predators: wolves, bears, and other wild animals beaver.

The population has seen growth in earlier years but their major threats are humans, beavers were endangered not because of nature but due to high demands of their fur and teeth, that is why many national agencies were put on task to protect beavers.

These creatures also come in various sizes, it depends on their species as well.

Over time nature has equipped beavers with the best tools to help them become the best architects in nature.

Their large teeth and scent glands, used to mark territory so other bevers know there is already a beaver lodge at that specific site. Their dome-shaped abode is often simply called a lodge and is made with moss, mud, and trees.

These dams are also pretty helpful for the environment.

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Why do beavers build dams in water?

It is very unnatural for any animal to build structures, beavers have master engineers when it comes to building dams, usually, a dam is an artificial structure that stops the flow of excess water, beavers build dams to do the same and more.

Even though it is very hard to believe but these beaver dams help beavers protect themselves and their family from predators and harsh environments during cold seasons.

Beavers build dams to stop the flow of water in their territory which decreases the chances of flooding in their lodges where they store fish and food even creating an ecosystem that helps birds and amphibians, storage protects them from predators as they don't have to go out of their lodges into the wild when their predators are most active i.e during the start of winter.

These beaver dams are so well made that they even have an underwater entrance, made from basic materials like; tree branches, mud, soil, and stones.

They use the same materials for their lodges, even though beavers in the UK are safe from their predators as they are nearly extinct or endangered i.e wolves and brown bears.

During winter beavers use branches and dead plants to keep themselves and their family warm, even though beaver lodges look small a single lodge can host two to three beavers.

It's indeed very fascinating how the beaver is such a great architect of nature and how they can easily escape some unfriendly animals through it.

Nature has equipped many animals in a similar way to protect themselves from predators when it comes to species that live near wetlands, keystone species such as beavers create something more interesting, while just running away from predators.

There are many reasons as to why do beavers build dams, a beaver dam is an excellent place to hide from predators found in wetlands such as a pond, thus a lodge that way near a pond is helpful.

A beaver lodge is also very helpful, for beavers to store some food supplies for their young as well, thus that's why they build dams.

Beavers create amazing-looking lodges beside their pond and it can be very beautiful to watch nature at its best such as a dam by beavers.

It also noticed in very few cases that land is also used to create and build dams, beavers are extremely talented and creative that way.

We cannot escape the fact is almost everyone is very interested in beavers, so excited that scientists even watched them create their dam through satellite.

The world's largest beaver dam is around 2788 ft ( 850 m) long and it's been noticed that multiple generations of beavers work on that dam and it becomes bigger as the generations pass, it is found in the wood buffalo national park.

The fact that you won't find a person more passionate for their jobs other than beavers, their front teeth are iron lanced enamel and often yellow as they cut through giant trees carefully, making sure that they don't break in order to create their lodge.

You can also see beavers on the postal stamp of Canada.

Why do beavers use trees to build dams?

As we already know beavers have excellent engineering skills, let us talk about their material of choice i.e wood even though a beaver dam is built from many materials like stone or mud but tree branches always remain the major material when beavers build dams.

The major reason is the availability of tree branches in wetlands.

Many trees and plants around the world don't survive in cold regions.

This is why trees shed a lot of branches during cold seasons as this reduces the process of photosynthesis and the following plant can save water, this is the same related phenomenon why desert plants have thrones, these broken branches can be easily picked by beavers by their teeth, even many creatures in wildlife help the transportation of branches as they accidentally drop branches in the river streams, even in their leisure beavers have a strange behavior of picking branches for their beaver dams.

Thus they don't have any shortage of branches when beavers build dams.

Beaver dams also help them trap more branches, beavers who live near ponds or stationary water bodies need to do a lot more hard work to collect materials they even go into deep water to find materials while looking out for aquatic animals which they prey on.

Beaver building the dam.

Why do beavers build multiple dams?

Beavers are very protective of their territory sometimes a beaver can have a territory of 3.1 mi (5 km), beavers want to protect as much area as they can hence sometimes it requires them to multiple dams

Beaver dam requires a lot of materials most of the time they can find these materials in the wild while collecting food, their environment plays a major role for them to find materials if the beaver has collected enough materials for building multiple dams, the beaver wouldn't hesitate to protect its territory, it would want to cover as much land as possible.

Many national wildlife researchers have studied beavers and have come to this conclusion.

In many regions in North America, we can see large beaver dams, consisting of multiple dams, people even compete on who can click the picture of the largest beaver dam.

A simple answer to why do beavers build dams near various sites near a pond is because one lodge might not be enough to store food for winters.

To create a well efficient dam they require a lot of work but it pays off as it saves their life from a verity of deadly hunters.

As beavers roam around various sites and going from one pond to another is not new for beavers, in such cases, they need a variety of dam channels or lodges to safeguard themselves from any danger whatsoever.

How does the beaver dam play a key role in an ecosystem?

A heard of beavers play a major role not just in protecting themselves but also in helping the environment in many subtle but noticeable ways. Beavers single-handedly make livable habitats for many kinds of fish, birds, amphibians, and birds.

Beaver dams create wetlands and ponds, which increase the biodiversity of a region as these dams even clean water from rivers giving suitable conditions for certain kinds of fish, amphibians, and other aquatic animals giving more survivability to certain species.

This increases the biodiversity of inland animals which in turn gives rise to new plant species. Beaver dams also decrease the rate of erosion which decreases the chances of landslides.

These wetlands and ponds have become very common in isolated regions with the flow of fresh water from rivers in North America, these beaver dams also decrease the chances of floods in these regions.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do cats like milk so much? and should you treat your kitty? then why not take a look at why do cats puke, or Purrrfect Facts About The Small Indian Mongoose Kids Will Love.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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