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|LIFE CYCLE INFORMATION|
Beavers - Reproduction
Beavers are monogamous animals that mate with only one partner. In the case where one of the mates dies, the other will most likely find a new partner to establish a home range and produce a new litter. As a rule, Beavers live in family colonies comprising two adults, a litter from the current year, and a few animals from the previous litter. However, individual Beavers do not start a family colony, but instead spend the whole of their life alone. They are referred to as "bachelors" no matter what the sex of the animal is. Although Beavers reach sexual maturity sooner than at the age of three years old, most do not breed until they have found a good area to build a home and a fitting partner to start a family.
Beavers - Breeding Season
Breeding season falls in January-February. Beavers are territorial animals and have to use some simple techniques to attract a partner. Oil productive glands allow Beavers to mark their territory and are a reliable means of letting prospective mates know they are welcomed to share the area. Gestation period lasts for about four months (107 days). The average litter size is 4 kits. They are born fully furred and learn to swim soon after birth. Their eyes are open at birth and will go underwater within a few hours after the actual time of birth. Delivery can be a long process sometimes. It may take a few days for a female Beaver to produce a litter.
Beavers - Family Colony
It is interesting to know that only one female, the founder of the family colony, will breed once a year. At the age of two years old, Beavers are forced to leave their family and seek appropriate sites of their own. A beaver lodge may contain as many as 8 to 10 beaver. Very often, they will go up or down the stream and create a new dam. Therefore, a series of dams found in some areas may belong to the Beavers that once belonged to the same family. However, in areas with high Beaver density, where there is a shortage of suitable sites, they can travel long distances in search of a new home. Some Beavers are reported to travel as far as 147 miles from their parents' residence.
Beavers feed primarily on the bark and outer layers of deciduous trees such as birch, willow, alder, sweet gum, magnolia, maple, and dogwood. They sometimes damage pine. During the warmer months, they may supplement their diet with grasses, aquatic plants, and corn.
Beavers care for their offspring by supplying them with food. Since the young do not travel far from the den, food should always be available for them. Beavers usually store food in tunnels making it unnecessary for juveniles to leave the site for too long. Inexperienced juveniles may become the victims of natural predators. Such animals as Coyotes, Owls, and Eagles find young Beavers an attractive food source. They also compose the ration of such predators as Wolves, Mountain Lions, Lynx, and others. Beavers that are lucky to avoid a predator or a trap will live up to ten years or longer in the wild.
Diseases common to Beaver
Tularemia is a bacterial disease that can be carried and transmitted by beavers. Human symptoms of this disease include headaches, chills, vomiting, fever, aches and pains. Humans may contract tularemia through contact with the blood or tissue of an infected beaver or by drinking contaminated water. Rubber gloves should be worn when handling beavers or working where they live. Drinking water taken directly from any stream, river, pond, or lake should be brought to a rolling boil for at least 15 minutes.
Giardiasis is caused by a protozoan parasite called Giardia lamblia. It causes acute gastroenteritis and diarrhea in humans. Most outbreaks occur from contamination of water supplies by human sewage, but cases tied to beavers have been reported. Boiling or filtering water removes the organisms that cause this disease.