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Christmas is past, but that doesn't mean Huckleberry can't still get presents! What do you think he'll do with two Christmas trees? Watch to find out! (also, sneak peeks of his new yard!)

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Hello and welcome back to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and this is Huckleberry the beaver and I have a present for him.  I'm pretty sure that if Huckleberry could have wished for anything for Christmas, he would have wished for a tree, and that is what I got him.  


Beavers are an interesting animal because they don't just chew down trees to use them for their dams and lodges, they actually eat the trees.  Mostly, they're going for the cambium layer, just under the bark, but they will often consume whole branches, which is a lot of fiber.  Their digestive system needs a ton of fiber to function properly and if they don't get enough wood to eat, they'll go into GI distress, so Huckleberry gets branches every day along with a bowl of treats like yam and kale.  His favorite kind of branches to eat are aspen, but he also accepts willow and birch.

Pine and fir trees, which are often used for Christmas trees, are very common in our area, but they're not the best for consumption all the time, so he doesn't get them very often.   Today, he's already gotten his regular branches and his bowl of breakfast treats, but I have two retired Christmas trees that I think he is going to really like.

The trees are not commercially grown.  They were harvested from the wild so they haven't been sprayed with any chemicals to keep them green, which means it's totally safe for him to be around them and even to eat them if he wants, and the other thing I want to show you today is Huckleberry's new yard.  

So I'm going to put the trees in his yard and then let him do whatever he wants with them.  Hello, bud.  Look what I have for you.  Look.  It's a Christmas tree!  Look at him go!  Get that branch.  Beavers are actually incredibly strong.  I like how he goes to chew the branch off right at the base of it, right against the trunk there and he knows exactly when to pull it off, and his teeth are huge and they're just perfectly shaped so he can just chisel them right off.  That's incredible.

I just love watching animals interact with their environments.  It's my job to give them what they need to express natural wild behaviors, even though they can't live in the wild.  Offering a whole tree is different than just offering branches, because he has to manipulate it in a completely different way.  He can't simply pick up a branch and drag it away.  He has to chew the branch off the trunk first, which is another behavior altogether.

Huck has access to his yard through this doggy door, so he can come and go as he pleases.  Beavers are well suited to living in the cold climate of Montana.  Freezing temperatures aren't a big issue for them.  The lakes, streams, and ponds they would call home often ice over completely, but beavers don't hibernate during this time.  They do spend much of the winter inside their lodges, which are carefully constructed to retain body heat.  

With a beaver family living in the lodge, it's actually pretty cozy inside because it stays above freezing and they have access to unfrozen water all winter long.  Huck's pool is inside and the building is kind of like a really big lodge.  We keep the temperature above freezing so the water and filtration system don't freeze and we can completely clean that water every day.

He also has an igloo hut, which he uses like he would the cozy part of his lodge.  He likes to build structures around and over his igloo with his branches, which is pretty fun to see.  It means he's doing what comes naturally to a beaver, and that tells me he's a happy guy.  

It's been such an incredible journey with Huckleberry, getting to see him grow up and get stronger.  Over the last couple of years, we've had to constantly adjust his home so he could practice his mobility skills and then, we got to watch and learn how to manage his ataxia in different situations.  Just look how good he's doing!  He can walk with very few stumbles.  He can chew off branches and drag them where he wants to, and he can swim!  He's simply amazing.  

It did take him just a little bit of time to manage his new yard, but we made it nice and flat and open, which is much easier for him to maneuver.  He figured out the doggy door incredibly fast and I think that's because he relies more on his sense of smell than his eyesight.  He could smell the open space on the other side of it and when he touched the movable flap, he quickly assessed that he could easily push through it.  

Now that his branches are all in the pool of water and he's done swimming, he has come up here and started grooming.  I think he's preparing to go back to bed.  Huckleberry is incredible.  Even though he has his disabilities, I'm so proud to see him thriving and doing the things he loves to do.  

Well, Huckleberry, I hope you continue to enjoy your Christmas present for days to come.  Thank you for watching!  I hope you enjoyed it and if you'd like to go on more animal adventures with us every week, be sure to subscribe and I'll see you next time.  Bye.