The beaver is considered the largest rodent in the Eastern Hemisphere, second only to the capybara in the South American jungle. Like most rodents, beavers are strict vegetarians. What do beavers eat in summer and during the period when the usual food of the warm period is not available to them? Let's consider in more detail.
What do beavers eat in summer
The diet of beavers depends on the lifestyle they lead. Since these are semi-aquatic animals, they feed on what is contained in the water and the nearby coastal strip. Rodents do not move far from the water, therefore, you will not find them further than 200 meters from the nearest reservoir. Beavers love to eat the bark and young shoots of some deciduous trees - aspen, birch, willow or poplar. Usually they eat 2-3 species of wood, and to switch to a different diet, it takes time for the intestinal microflora to adapt to changes in the diet.
Beavers prefer to eat representatives of the willow family:
- alder, etc.
And if there is a choice of what to eat - willow or birch, then the beaver will always eat the willow first, and leave the birch “for later”. He will use birch shoots when there are no other trees left, presumably this is due to the fact that tar is contained in the birch bark. In addition, they are great at eating acorns. Sometimes they can wander into vegetable gardens, if they are near their home, and feast on carrots, radishes, turnips or other root crops.
In addition to the bark and shoots of trees, the summer diet of beavers includes many herbaceous plants in our water bodies. Reeds, reeds, cattails, water lilies, iris, egg capsules and many other aquatic plants are important additions to the woody component of their diet. But beavers do not eat fish, although from time to time some "naturalists" conclude that the reduction in fish stock in certain water bodies is associated with the settlement of the beaver family there. This is not so, the decrease in the number of fish depends on some other factors, and beavers have nothing to do with this fact: they do not eat fish, or mollusks, or larvae of aquatic insects, since they are strictly herbivorous. The volume of food consumed by beavers every day is enormous and amounts to 20 percent of their weight.
Beaver diet in winter
In winter, the life of the reservoir stops, and the amount of food decreases dramatically. Beavers, like many animals, in this regard, make supplies for the winter. They consist of branches - both thin and rather thick. First of all, willow wood is harvested, less willingly - aspen and other deciduous species. Harvesting is carried out first around the dwelling, and as stocks of timber suitable for "canning" run out, the animals move farther and farther from the hut.
For the winter, one beaver family needs up to 30 cubic meters of wood, and if the family is large - up to 70. Part of the stock (about 2-3 cubic meters) is immersed in water and tamped into the ground. And the bulk of the food is stored somewhere near the dwelling, using it as needed. Those stocks that are stored under water, beavers can eat right on the spot, without pulling them to the surface. Considering that the reservoir is frozen at this time, such eating is safe for animals - no predator can reach them.
At the end of February, beavers begin to leave the hut ashore in search of fresh food. With the onset of warmth, such "promenades" become more and more prolonged. At this time, animals can cut down thick trees growing on the shore of the reservoir, which has become their habitat. Gradually, the rodents switch completely to "pasture" food, since the remains of the branches harvested for the winter by that time usually become less preferable than fresh food. In extremely favorable conditions, when an abundance of herbaceous food is observed in the reservoir, beavers may not do winter harvesting..