We have all probably seen cartoons in which beavers chew over a tree. Do they really do that? Can a beaver really just gnaw a full grown tree over like on television?
Absolutely! This picture was snapped by one of our technicians working in Livingston County. This was a long a river bank in a generally marshy area. As you can see, the beaver has steadily gnawed away around the base of this tree until it has fallen – and directly in the direction the beaver desired!
With its huge teeth a beaver can cut down a small tree in minutes; with bigger ones, such as the one shown above, the beaver prefers to gnaw it almost all the way through and then let the wind blow it over. The beaver will gnaw until it senses the tree is unstable and will then move away and wait for it to fall. If it does not fall, it will return and continue to work at the tree in order to get it down.
The beaver is normally astute enough to get the tree to fall in the direction it wishes. Sometimes it miscalculates, however, and a beaver can be killed by a falling tree. When a tree is felled, beavers will break or gnaw off branches and parts of it to use for their dams; they also will eat the nutritious inner layer of the bark, called the cambium layer.
Next time you are by a river bed or wetland, keep an eye out for these tell tale signs of beaver activity! For more on beavers or Creature Control’s beaver trapping services for Michigan, please see our beaver page.