Beaver Dams as Engineering Projects

By A. O.

Beavers build their dams of plant matter and stones, in a manner similar to their nests

Beavers build their dams of plant matter and stones, in a manner similar to their nests

Beaver Dams as Engineering Projects

Beavers calculate like real engineers, work like master builders, and build lodges of extraordinary design. With the same impressive skill, they build dams to slow the outflow of the water in which they build their dwellings.

To accomplish this, they have to undergo some highly tedious procedures. First of all, they must obtain a large quantity of logs and branches, as sources of nourishment as well as for building material for the dam and nest. To this end, they fell trees by chewing through the trunks with their teeth.

It has been observed that in this process, they assess the suitability of the environment: Generally, they prefer to work where the prevailing wind blows towards the water. This way, most of the trees they fell fall in the direction of the water making the logs easier for the beavers to transport.

Beaver nests are of a highly complex design. Each lodge has two underwater entries, as well as—just above water level—a larder and, further up, a dry sleeping chamber with a ventilation shaft.

Beavers construct the outside walls of their nests by piling up the building materials they gather, filling every crevice with twigs and mud, making sure not to leave any holes or cavities.

These building materials they use protect the lodge from sliding and keep out the cold. In winter, it becomes blanketed in snow, and even if the temperature outside falls below -35° C (-31° F), the temperature within remains above the freezing point. For when winter food is scarce, they also have a food stash concealed underwater.

Beavers also build a network of canals, each of them approximately one meter (three feet) wide, by which they can reach the trees they feed off, which are typically located on higher and drier ground considerable distances away.

Beavers build their dams of plant matter and stones, in a manner similar to their nests. First, they weave branches across the water between the two banks of a stream, forming an interwoven triangular structure. In order to fill in the structure’s gaps and raise its height, they work against the current and keep on adding branches and mud, until their dam has finally transformed a narrow stream into a wide pool of calm water.

Widening and deepening the water provides them with an ideal environment where they can store food for the winter, as well as area for them to swim freely and more easily transport food and building materials. In addition, it also creates a wide, safe moat around the beavers’ lodges that, just like the moat surrounding a human castle, makes it almost impossible for predators to attack them.

beaver-dams-as-engineering-projects2This brief summary shows how every stage of beavers’ construction reflects intellect, planning, knowledge and calculation. But it would be irrational to credit the beaver, an animal without intellect or ability to reason, with all these qualities.

Therefore, we must find an explanation for the source of the beaver’s behavior. If this intellect and planning do not belong to the beaver, who does it belong to?

The answer is God, Who brings out superior features in beavers, as well as in many other creatures. With His infinite reason and power, God has created them, brings out their superior qualities by His inspiration, and commands them to effect their ingenious plans.


Taken from the author’s book: DEVOTION AMONG ANIMALS REVEALING THE WORK OF GOD. Published by GLOBALPUBLISHING. Okmeydani-Istanbul/Turkey.

A. O. is a Turkish writer and author.


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