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Last sync:2020-04-16 11:15
Watch Huckleberry the beaver grow up! Enjoy this combination of videos that follow Huck's adventures from a 4lb baby to a 40lb adult!

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Taylor: Hi! My name is Taylor, and I'd like to share a very special story with you about a beaver named Huckleberry. I work at an animal rescue and education center called Animal Wonders, and a few years ago we rescued a baby beaver who was orphaned and needed help. He was so small and he required special care in order to survive. Let's take a look at Huckleberry's very first video with his very excited caretaker, Jessie.

Jessie: So we got a call that an animal needed help, like, right then, and we weren't prepared but we said yes and we said 'well, we'll do what we can for this animal'. And, he's sleeping right now but let's--let's meet him. [to Huckleberry] Hi sleepy boy! What do you think? How's it going? Wanna come say hi? There you go. [to camera] Guys, it's a baby beaver.

He is incredibly, densely furred; very soft, actually, to the touch. His tail feels kind of like leather, I don't know, like a belt a little bit. He has a, um, almost like a sweet, musty odor? And he's very food-oriented so I am going to get his mid-day meal ready for him and, uh, make him a happy little guy. We think that he's around five weeks old which is still young enough that he needs to have milk; he should be being nursed by his mother but he has neurological damage and is unable to be raised by his mother. So, um, we are giving him some TLC, and I've got some formula just for him! I love how well he takes this, and you can see that he's holding on to the syringe and he keeps moving his little hands around which is a normal behavior that he would do while he's nursing with his mother. And these guys are very vocal when they eat too.

He's eating four times a day now, and--and that's the formula and on top of that he's also started eating some fresh produce, some starter foods, and that's a really good sign that he's strong and healthy and doing what he should do. We're also offering him a variety of different kinds of soft woods, but when we first put him in he was not interested at all, so what I did was got really close to him and I took the branch between my fingers and pretended to use my fingers like teeth and chew on it, and then he's like 'oh, whatcha doing over there' and then he came over and started mimicking. So because these guys are so social, using mimicry like that is a great way for them to experience and try new things.

Alright, he has eaten the entire syringe, and he's not gonna be happy when I take it away. [to Huckleberry] Sorry, buddy. Alright, let's wash you up, huh? What do you think? Tell em about it. Tell me about it, tell me about it, so mad! [to camera] That is a little beaver temper tantrum.

Alright now that he's finished he has to go to the bathroom, and beavers go to the bathroom in the water, so I'm gonna put him in his little pool of water here, let him go poo. [to Huckleberry] Good job, buddy. Alright, all done? Come on out! Woah, nicely done! [to camera] He is getting so much better at that! It is a great sign that he's getting stronger; he can--he can get out of his tub! For a while there he was struggling a little bit but, uh, he's getting stronger and stronger which makes me so happy.

Okay, this tub of water is pretty dirty now so I'm gonna go ahead and change that. There we go, fresh and clean. So this is not a permanent set up for the beaver. He is going to get huge, like, up to 50 pounds and three feet long huge. There's no way he's going to be able to--to live in a kiddie pool forever. Um, this is just our temporary set up.

We were surprised to get a beaver and so as he grows our accommodations for him will also need to grow, so that's an adventure that we're going on right now. For now, it's crucial that he gets a ton of socialization. These guys are very social in the wild; they usually spend up to two years with their parents and their family groups before they move on to their own territory. So right now he has a stuffed animal to cuddle with, lots of soft blankets, things to--to hide in so he feels secure, but we also just hang out in his little kiddie pool with him and snuggle.

You can see that he's, uh, pretty tuckered out right now; he's just snoozing away, and there's two reasons for that: beavers are nocturnal so he wouldn't be awake during the day very much anyway, and also he just ate a big meal so he's resting and digesting.

Doing what we do, taking in displaced exotic animals and providing them a lifelong home is challenging because we can't always prepare for the unexpected, and sometimes a lot of unexpected things happen. But we do like to be flexible enough so that we're ready to take on the surprises like getting a baby beaver! So we're pretty excited to take on this challenge.

Well this has been fun I'm so glad I get to introduce you to our newest animal. [to Huckleberry] You are being a terrible co-host! You fell asleep in your own party.

Taylor: I love seeing baby Huckleberry, and I'm so glad that we were able to take him in and help him grow strong and healthy. As Huckleberry grew bigger we learned more about his special needs and how we could help him thrive.

Jessie: [to Huckleberry] Hello handsome-face! Hi dude! What do you think? Wanna come eat some breakfast? Here, do you need some help? Yeah? Up we go. Nice work! There you go! Here, would you like an apple? Yeah? There you go, don't fall!

Hi guys, I wanted to give you an update on our little baby beaver here, who's growing so big! Huck is about nine weeks old now, and he has tripled in size. You can see he's eating solid foods now, his favorite are apple slices and rodent blocks, which, this is really good for him gives him lots of his nutrients [to Huckleberry] Yeah, get it all in your mouth; good job! [to camera] He loves eating, he's a really good eater. He loves social interaction, but there are some other things that we're still working on.

Huck has mild neurological damage, and was diagnosed through watching his behavior and working with our vet. He has trouble balancing, and will often step sideways and stumble. He has trouble moving over objects, and we're still determining if it's safe for him to full-on swim and dive. We're also concerned about his eyes. They water quite frequently, and we're wondering if he can see out of his right eye. Further behavioral assessment is needed to determine what his abilities are.

[to Huckleberry] What do you think? Here. Here. There you go, good job! [to camera] He is really social and I love that, but, like in the wild, he's particular about who he's familiar with or social with, so he's bonded very strongly to me but he's still quite wary of strangers. Because he's so comfortable with me and we've established a really strong trust bond, I've actually been able to take him out on public presentations already so we can educate about how amazing beavers are.

Since he is a baby beaver right now my favorite part to talk about during public presentations is the fact that baby beavers actually have to fart in order to get all the air out of their belly to leave their lodge, so it's a perfect time to talk about it, he's a baby! One of the things I'm working with him right now is trying to get him to practice some gross motor skills, so getting him to balance-- [to Huckleberry] You got it buddy! Oh--oh that was a pretty good one. [to camera] Look at him go! Yeah! I wanna work on his gross motor skills so he can be the best beaver he can be and I can offer him an enclosure with varying levels and different sub-straits and he can manage it well.

A couple weeks ago we moved him from his temporary enclosure in just the kiddie pool to this larger space. This is actually our, um, late American mink Frazier's old enclosure, um, but it's working out well for Huck here cause we can put his kiddie pool right inside and let him explore at his own pace.

Something exciting that happened in the last two weeks is that he started eating solid foods but then he started chewing on wood and you can see that he has chewed the bark off of these aspen branches and--ahh he's growing up so fast! As he continues to grow we will continue to make modifications for his needs. I'm hoping to be able to remove the kiddie pool and get a deeper tank that he might be able to swim and fully submerge if he's able to do that. For now we're just gonna keep going at his pace and whatever he needs we'll give him.

Taylor: Providing special care for a baby beaver with neurological trauma was a big task, but that wasn't the only challenge we faced. With adorable baby beavers comes a lot of hard work.

Jessie: [to Huckleberry] Hi buddy, are you ready? Breakfast time! What's goin' on? Can you watch out? This goes this way. Watch out! All the way around. Good boy! Come here, dude. Come here. What do you think? That was dinner last night. Hi! Here, yeah I know, here you want some apples? No, no apples. Say 'that's not my favorite', this is your favorite! Yeah! There you go.

Hi guys welcome back to Animal Wonders! We're checking in with Huckleberry today, and I'm gonna give you a quick update! Pickin' the best stuff, what is it gonna be? Apple and spinach--mm that does sound good actually.

It's been a few weeks since you've seen him, and in that time we built him a new water tank. The big challenge with beavers is that they are semi-aquatic so they need some place to swim or be in water and that's a pretty big challenge when they're living in captivity. And that's compounded with his ataxia which means that he has poor gross motor skills which means that he will fall off balance every once and a while, so we have to build a safe way for him to access his water.

So it's morning time right now and I'm just checking in with him, he's eating his breakfast now and I am gonna--[to Huckleberry] here you go, bud. [to camera] I'm gonna show you what it takes to clean this guy's space. I'm gonna put him in the corner here so that he's out of the way, and you can see that he's building a little nest over here so I'm gonna put his food over here--[to Huckleberry] come here, dude. You ready? There you go, here here here, food food food food food! There you go. You stay out of the way. [to camera] Alright, I'm gonna go get my supplies now.

Alright, you ready guys? This is basically like--like a--a water sucker? I don't know it's gonna suck up all of this water that Huck has pooped in. Woah!

Alright, so this is obviously still a work in progress; this is the second day we've attempted this so everything is new, and, uh, we just have poop water everywhere, you know? That's fine. Okay, so the new plan is to fill up the tank and then just manually empty the tank instead of having it go off. Eventually maybe we'll figure something out that's better but that's what we're doing right now.

Okay, take two. Stop it! Oh, god. Why won't you stay in. Stop the flood, guys, gross. Oh my gosh, okay, okay that wasn't that bad. That wasn't terrible. We got this. Here's the tank. Alright, let's finish her off. We're gonna rinse this side out and turn it on at the same time.

Hey, hey, success! [to Huckleberry] You're doing alright. There you go, buddy. Yeah. Look, fresh water, you smell it? You'll get used to this. It'll be fine.

Alright, that's pretty good. I don't want it too deep right now, um, he's still not very confident in his swimming abilities, so we're just gonna keep it wading level, and, uh, he's doing pretty good. I mean, he didn't like the loud noises but he settled down and he's munching now so he's gonna get used to it.

He's doing it so soft so I don't know if you guys can hear it but he's doing his little happy whistle, which is this really high-pitched soft whistle. I'm just gonna get him to practice going up and down this, I just wanna make sure I'm watching him to see that he can do it, and it--he's been doing a really good job on it, actually. It's just every once and a while he'll fall sideways. But as he gets bigger it seems like he's getting stronger too.

Beavers are very, very social in the wild and they would stay with their parents for two years, and thay'd have their older siblings with them as well and then in their second year they would have their younger siblings so they do a lot of just hanging out with each other. Sometimes I'll just come and just sit in his space with him and he'll walk over and kinda slump down next to me and put his back up against my leg and we'll just hang out together, and that's really important for his mental well being because he is such a social animal.

As far as his future goes we don't know what that holds, um, with his ataxia that could prevent him from having a companion, and it's really hard to introduce beavers, we actually don't know what sex he is, as he gets older we'll for sure determine if he's male or female and then he'll need the opposite sex and then that interaction might not even go through, I mean, these guys are individuals you can't make them like each other, so future's up in the air right now. We're just gonna go at his pace and see what he needs.

[to Huckleberry] Wanna go for a swim, buddy? Show me how you get down that rock. You got it. Show me how you step out. Oh, what a good boy. Nicely done. That was a little stumbly but you caught yourself really well. Do you want to go into the water? What do you think? Oh yeah! [to camera] And I will come out and I will just see him laying in the water, which is really good, and you can see-- [to Huckleberry] look at this buddy, move your tail. [to camera] You can see he has already christened the new water. Water is such a stimulant for them, it's very important for their digestive system as well. So even though it's a big pain to clean it's really important for him. Hi. Oh, I know!

Taylor: I remember the good old days of vacuuming up poop water! Just kidding, that was the worst. As more and more people fell in love with Huckleberry we asked for help to build him a home designed just for his needs. Check it out.

Jessie: We're going to Huckleberry's new home right now. (15:20)