Maple, the North American beaver at Drusillas Park has been making a few home improvements in preparation for a new lodger. Over the last seven days, the eager beaver has begun to re-landscape her enclosure and gnaw her way through one of the zoo’s large deciduous trees. This is the first time she has embarked on such an industrious homemaking project, well timed for the arrival of her new love interest.
Beavers are known as the engineers of the animal kingdom – they are able to bite through the trunk of a thick tree using their strong front teeth only.
Once fell, beavers use the logs to create complex dams and construct their lodges in the resulting ponds. In this way they are able to create pools of still, deep water to aid protection against terrestrial predators.
In less than one week, Maple has gnawed her way through a tree with a diameter of approximately 500cm, reducing it to less than half its original size. The work has been carried out under the cover of night, leaving only the traumatised trunk and wood chippings as evidence of her efforts.
Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “Maple is slowly working her way through the tree stump and it is great to see this natural behaviour. We purposely left the tree in the enclosure for Maple as part of our enrichment programme and she seems to be getting great enjoyment from it.”
“However, now she has started there is no stopping her. Not content with just felling the tree, she has also started chewing her way through a number of half round timbers which line our Geoffroy’s marmoset enclosure. They have been there for a long time and the beavers have never had a nibble before. She must know her new beaver male is due to arrive and doing some creative gnawing to welcome him.”
Sadly, Maple lost her previous companion earlier this year and since then the zoo has been working hard to find her a fitting suitor. Web-footing his way from the Czech Republic, the male will be introduced at Drusillas Park later this month and whiskers crossed the paddling pair will get on swimmingly.