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Huckleberry the beaver and Jessi share a look at the largest beaver dam in the world! *Special first time viewing of new photos of the dam thanks to Rob Belanger, courtesy of Parks Canada!*

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The first thousand people who click the link in the description can get a free trial of Skillshare’s Premium Membership. Hello and welcome back to Animal Wonders!

I’m Jessi, and this is Huckleberry the beaver. So there’s this gigantic beaver dam in Canada, and it’s so huge! I really want to talk about it!

Also, Huckleberry has increased his woodworking efforts, and I have to share because it’s just too adorable. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. Beavers are awesome! And I really can’t emphasize that enough.

Here’s three things about beavers just to start us off. They are a keystone species, which means that the animals hold up an ecosystem. Many other species depend on their presence, and without them the ecosystem would collapse or be drastically different.

They could be the key to reducing wildfire catastrophes! When beavers create dams which in turn can sometimes lead to extensive wetlands, they create a large natural barrier that can stop wildfires from crossing. And their existence had a major impact on the course of modern history in the United States and Canada due to their amazing fur!

Also, they are very cool to get to know as individuals. Like Huckleberry here. Huckleberry came to Animal Wonders in 2017 as an orphan with brain trauma.

He’s a non-releasable beaver, which means he likely wouldn’t survive if he was released into the wild. So he lives here at Animal Wonders being his awesome beaver self, doing the important job of teaching the public about beavers! Beavers have an interesting social life.

Unlike most rodents who mostly grow up quickly and have short lifespans, beavers are long lived, averaging about 15 years and over 20 in captivity. In the wild, they spend two years with their parents and the rest of their siblings, both older and younger, before heading off to find a home on their own. During the first two years of their life, they’re learning everything they need to know about how to survive in the wild, including how to build a dam and how to make a safe and cozy lodge.

Now before we get to this gigantic beaver dam, I first want to clarify something. A beaver dam is not where they live. It’s what they build so they can have a nice home to raise their young.

A beaver lodge is their home. It’s where they sleep and keep their babies safe from predators. So beavers will build a dam to block running water, which will then build up behind the dam to form a pond or lake where aquatic plants can grow.

This provides the beavers with an abundance of food, which is perfect for a beaver family with kits. Now a few hundred years ago, there were beavers all across North America. When colonists from Europe came to North America, they knew how warm and waterproof beaver fur was, so they eagerly hunted them for their pelts.

In the 1800s, beaver fur was so popular they were hunted to near extinction. They all but disappeared from North America, except where humans couldn’t find them. Thankfully the species is resilient, and with a little help they’ve made a decent comeback.

But taking a look at what beavers do when humans aren’t holding them back is a sight to be seen! There are a few places in Canada where beavers are absolutely flourishing! I haven’t been to them myself, but learning about Frances Backhouse’s experiences that she wrote about in her book, Once They Were

Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver,. I got a good idea of what it would be like. There’s a place in Saskatchewan, Canada called the Beaver Capital, where there are 50-100 beavers per square kilometer! And there’s place in Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta that boasts the longest beaver dam in the world.

It’s 850 meters long! That’s one huge dam! The dam was discovered in 2007 with satellite imagery, and looking back it was also found in 1990 on Landsat.

So this gigantic dam is a multi-generational effort spanning over 30 years. And it’s continuing to grow! There are new dams being built that could eventually join the main dam over the next decade, increasing the dam’s overall size by 50-100 meters.

Now, while we marvel at the sheer size of this structural masterpiece and acknowledge that this dam is the largest dam in the world right now, can you imagine how big some of the beaver dams must have gotten when beavers ruled North America?! Today when we teach about beavers in school, they are famous and memorable for their dams. Even where beavers aren’t commonly found, school kids learn about how beaver dams change ecosystems and provide new habitats for a rich biodiversity of species.

And sometimes we get a bit too enthusiastic about lifting up beavers and give them skills that aren’t actually true. Like, beavers don’t use their flat tails to pat down the mud on their dams. And their lodges aren’t multi-leveled with a variety of rooms like a house.

But even without the exaggerations, beavers are still pretty awesome. And they’re the only animals, besides humans, that completely change their environment to suit the needs of their family. I think it’s incredible how they can take a bunch of sticks, place them in seemingly random disordered piles, and create a complex structure that impacts the lives of so many others.

Huckleberry definitely has “random pile of sticks” down. And I love seeing his natural instincts kick in, and his efforts to create a cozy home aren’t in vain. His bed, made from wood chips that he chewed himself, does look pretty comfortable.

Knowing the important role that beavers can play in solving some very big environmental problems makes me excited. There is still so much work to be done with beavers, and I can’t wait to see what their role will be in the future! If you’d like to learn more about beavers and the important things they do,.

I’ve put some links in the description below. And if you have been inspired by the industrious beaver to do some woodworking of your own, a great place to start is with this class from Skillshare! There are tons of woodworking classes on Skillshare from very beginner to advanced, so I wanted to start with one that doesn’t need too many specialized tools.

Bob Hoellwarth’s class walks you through how to build a simple planter with clear, easy to follow instructions. When you’re done, you’ll have something useful you built yourself and you’ll be ready for spring. Skillshare is an online learning community that offers membership with meaning.

With so much to explore, real projects to create, and the support of fellow-creatives,. Skillshare empowers you to accomplish real growth. And it makes it easy with short classes that will fit into your daily routine.

A Premium Membership will give you unlimited access, so you can join the classes and communities that are just right for you. And an annual subscription to Skillshare is less than $10 a month, and if you’re one of the first 1,000 people to click the link in the description, you can get a free trial of Skillshare’s Premium Membership. Thanks for watching, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

If you’d like to continue going on adventures with us every week, be sure to subscribe and I’ll see you soon! Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].