UNDERWATER WINTER: Otters and Beavers

This week, we’ve been talking about how animals who live around lakes and ponds survive the winter. River otters are one of the hardy species that manage to make it through the season, but not without the unwitting help of another animal, the beaver. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience beaver tail slapping water

Right now, we’re listening to the sound of a beaver slapping it’s tail in the water.

“Otters take advantage of beaver in every way they can except to prey upon the beaver. Young otters have even been known, for example, to tear apart beaver dams, that is to, to let water out, so that the dropping water level behind the dam opens up air spaces beneath the ice that afford the otter both shelter and protection while hunting underneath the ice.”

Peter Marchand is a visiting professor in biology at Colorado College. He tells us that beaver provide an even more direct source of shelter to the otters.

“Unlike many other mammals that may return to the same retreat — a den or a nest — river otters travel widely, and will exploit any number of shelters. Abandoned beaver lodges are perhaps one of the most important resources to the otter in terms of shelter. An abandoned beaver lodge provides two things that the otter needs. One is shelter and the other is access into the water. Otters are not very good at digging either burrows or entrances into the water. So the presence of abandoned beaver lodges are exceedingly important to otters, and very often, we just don’t find otters in the far north, where we don’t find beavers.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.


Peter J. Marchand is the author of Life in the Cold, 3rd edition, published in 1996 by University Press of New England, Hanover, NH. ISBN 0-87451-785-0

UNDERWATER WINTER: Otters and Beavers

River otters take advantage of beavers in every way they can without actually preying on them.
Air Date:01/23/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

This week, we've been talking about how animals who live around lakes and ponds survive the winter. River otters are one of the hardy species that manage to make it through the season, but not without the unwitting help of another animal, the beaver. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience beaver tail slapping water

Right now, we're listening to the sound of a beaver slapping it's tail in the water.

"Otters take advantage of beaver in every way they can except to prey upon the beaver. Young otters have even been known, for example, to tear apart beaver dams, that is to, to let water out, so that the dropping water level behind the dam opens up air spaces beneath the ice that afford the otter both shelter and protection while hunting underneath the ice."

Peter Marchand is a visiting professor in biology at Colorado College. He tells us that beaver provide an even more direct source of shelter to the otters.

"Unlike many other mammals that may return to the same retreat -- a den or a nest -- river otters travel widely, and will exploit any number of shelters. Abandoned beaver lodges are perhaps one of the most important resources to the otter in terms of shelter. An abandoned beaver lodge provides two things that the otter needs. One is shelter and the other is access into the water. Otters are not very good at digging either burrows or entrances into the water. So the presence of abandoned beaver lodges are exceedingly important to otters, and very often, we just don't find otters in the far north, where we don't find beavers."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.


Peter J. Marchand is the author of Life in the Cold, 3rd edition, published in 1996 by University Press of New England, Hanover, NH. ISBN 0-87451-785-0