Watch this big beaver swing from a willow tree

Published: July 22, 2020

beaver swimming in water reaching up for willow tree branches

Ever seen a really big beaver swing from a willow tree?


Now you have!

Dave Rydzik tagged us in the peculiar video on Twitter and because we’re naturally curious, we contacted biologist and naturalist Franco Mariotti to help us understand what’s going on here.

What is this beaver doing?
“At first it appears that the beaver is playing, swinging back and forth,” says Mariotti, “but really what is happening here is a case of low hanging fruit. The fine new willow branch being the low hanging fruit.”

Why this willow tree?
“The willow branches hanging low may be attractive to a hungry beaver. Normally though, if they wish to eat the tree, they have no hesitation to chew away at the its base and fell the tree to obtain easy access to the young shoots on the upper part of the trees.”

Is it common for beavers to frequent willow trees?
“During late spring and summer, beavers prefer to eat ‘fresh’ (newly grown) aquatic vegetation, such as lily pads and their roots,” he says. “They will, on occasion, feed on their favourite food trees, which are poplar, birch, and willows.” Most often, beavers will save trees for the fall when they start making their food pile for the winter near their lodge. During the winter, they will feed on the bark from the trees.

So what’s up with that swinging motion?
“The ‘swinging’ is the result of the beaver trying to get a better grip on the branch so that they may cut it off, which, in the end, it partially succeeds in doing,” says Mariotti.

This beaver seems pretty big. Are they normally this size?
“A two- to three-year-old beaver can weigh in at 30 to 40 lbs. Since they can live anywhere from 8 to 12 years, they can grow to 80 lbs,” says Mariotti. “The record for a North American beaver is 120 lbs.”

There you have it, some funny, but not out of the ordinary beaver behaviour. But even if this beaver was going for a swing for the fun of it, that wouldn’t be too strange either.”This is not to say that beavers do not play,” says Mariotti. “My wife and I raised a beaver for Science North many years ago in our home, and there were interactions with us where he clearly enjoyed playing, rearing up on its hind feet and shaking its head from side to side and making little mutterings.”

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