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Beavers in the Eifel

A proliferating beaver population has been around in the northern Eifel for many years, which currently consists primarily of the Canadian beaver whose origin is probably from zoo animals escaped or freed. The European beaver was once exclusively located in Germany.
Since there are no natural enemies for beavers in our region and also the habitat of natural stream valleys are limited the Gesellschaft für Naturschutz und Ornithologie Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. has launched a neutering program for Canadian beavers. The beavers are lured into live traps. After a genetic determination, neutering and implantation of a microchip the beavers will be released again into the wild.

The Canadian Beaver

The Canadian beaver (Castor Canadensis) is one of the largest still occurring rodents and reaches a body length of 90 to 115 cm and a weight of 18 to 32 kg. In the animal world the males are usually larger than females. In the case of a beaver this situation is reverse, but the difference in size is not significant.
If you look at the body structure of a beaver, you see the very dense and waterproof coat, which has a reddish-brown to black-brown color. The small, dark brown colored eyes of the beaver are already the first indication of the vast night activity and have a special feature, the so called hawThe haw, or also often called "third eyelid", is an additional conjunctival fold in the nasal canthus.
In humans and most primates, it is only rudimentary.
In many other vertebrates, it is transparent and can be folded just like safety glasses onto his eyes.
protects the eyes under water.

The front legs are shorter than the rear legs and serve the beaver for holding food and keeping smaller trunks and branches. There are small webbed toes located on the powerful rear legs, that provide extra drive in the water. The second toe of the rear feet is a double claw and also greatly extended. It serves the beaver as a so called plaster claw, which he can use to clean his fur just like a comb.

The teeth

The incisors of a beaver reach a length of 25 to 33 mm.

One of the most distinctive features of the beaver are the strong incisors which he can also use to chop trees. A beaver is quite able to cut down a tree with a diameter of half a meter in one night. Because the incisors grow for a lifetime, they must be used to permanently maintain the normal length. The extraordinary thing about the beaver’s incisors is not only their length, but the conspicuous brownish-orange color they obtain by the deposition of iron, which serves as a reinforcement the outer wall of the teeth.

Reproduction and offspring

At the age of three years the Canadian beaver reaches his sexual maturity. After a gestation period of just over 100 to 105 days, the female gives birth to between one and four young in her beaver lodge. The young beavers are born well developed. Their eyes are already open and the young could theoretically swim on the first day.

The birth weight of a beaver is between 300 and 500 g. The body length is 30-35 cm.

After birth, the young beavers are usually nursed for about 90 days. In the second week of life the young animal leaves the lodge for the first time. In the third week the young already eat solid food. After two years the beaver is ready to settle in his own territory. In the wild the beaver reaches an age between 10 and 15 years. In captivity or without natural enemies, he can get much older. Some beavers over 30 years old have been found.

Controlled reproduction with neutering

At the beginning of the beaver’s settlement the population initially grows very slowly due to the fact that there is usually only one litter per year. Due to the lack of natural enemies, a population may still rise very quickly. For this reason it is important to have an active control and regulation of the essential population by neutering. In the neutering the necessary sex organs get removed surgically. The operation is performed under general anesthetic and the beaver will be completely pain free.

Releasing into nature

Even if it may look very trivial, the subsequent releasing of the beaver in nature is always a special event which beaver territory workers and active helpers don’t want to miss.

If you are interested have a look at our short video

If you would like to see beavers in the wild you should visit Irsental, Alfbachtal, Bierbach, upper Prümtal oder Mannerbachtal and take a walk. Please be patient, take time and binoculars!
Occasionally guided hikes are offered.

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Stefanie Venske
Gesellschaft für Naturschutz und Ornithologie Rheinland-Pfalz e.V.
- Biberzentrum -
Phone: 06393 / 993406