Having a residence located on a pond or lake is an extremely popular and in-demand site choice.
The ever-changing views provide a scenic surprise every day.
Freshwater ponds and lakes offer fish of varying sizes and types, if angling is your thing.
Humans aren’t the only ones who appreciate a lakeside residence. For a mammal, in particular, this is the only choice. Beavers, relatively large semi-aquatic native rodents with spatula-like tails, will always settle in a body of fresh water.
Only two species of beaver still exist: The North American beaver or Castor canadensis, as it is formally called, is the only example in this part of the world. There is the Eurasian beaver which lives from southern France to the Russian part of northern Central Asia.
The only rodent bigger than the beaver is a native of South America, the capybara. It tips the scales at just under 200 pounds, while Beavers can reach around 70 pounds.
The beaver’s coat can have up to 148,000 hairs per square inch. The dense fur protects the animal from predators while keeping it warm in cold water.
Color variations range from a medium tan to a very dark brown. Most commonly, Beavers are a reddish brown, but their underfur is dark gray
During the 18th and 19th centuries, beavers were hunted to near extinction. Their smooth skins were prized for a variety of fashion accessories, including men’s top hats.
Fortunately for the remaining beavers, fashions have changed and strictly enforced hunting regulations have allowed their population to rebound to an acceptable level. Much like another freshwater resident of Wakulla County, alligators and beavers have numbers that create a sustainable population.
Spending much of their lives in water, beavers are equipped to be excellent swimmers. Their front legs are dexterous but not used for swimming. Their hind legs have webbed toes and powerful legs, which combine with their streamlined bodies to propel them efficiently.
On land, the effects of gravity make the aquatic body of the beaver somewhat clumsy and slow. Yet the beaver is able to accelerate quickly when startled, and its strength shows in the way it moves branches and logs.
More commonly referred to as nature’s builders, beavers are also well equipped with teeth, which continually grow, and exceptionally powerful jaws. They are famous, or infamous to some land managers, for their dams that block the flow of water and create new ponds for beavers and other creatures to use.
In Panhandle Florida, the sweet gums seem to be the favorite for building their huts and dams. Beavers eat the bark and use the logs for construction.
The resulting ponds grow aquatic weeds, another food source for this large rodent. Over time, a population of fish results, which cohabit peacefully with the beavers.
As vegetarians, the beavers have no interest in catching the fish, but other local residents might.
To learn more about beavers in Wakulla County, contact your UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://wakulla.ifas.ufl.edu/.
To read more stories by Les Harrison, visit outdoorauthor.com and follow us on Facebook.