The introduction of a pair of adult beavers in the Holnicote Estate, Somerset, has paid rich dividends. For the first time in 4 centuries, a baby beaver was born. The pair of adult beavers were introduced in January 2020 at the estate, controlled by the National Trust.
The baby beaver, aged around 6 months, was captured in-camera footage, swimming close to the mother at their lodge in a big enclosure at the estate. The release of the pair of beavers was a first in the 125-year history of the trust.
The authorities at the park had their first hint that the Eurasian beavers had mated successfully when they espied the male adult dragging extra vegetation and wood to their den late in spring. Ranger Jack Siviter said that there were also changes in the normal habits of the female beaver as she was seen less and let the male do all the work.
Siviter said that their suspicion was confirmed when they found that the female had developed larger than normal teats. The strong survival instincts of the female beaver led it to be named Grylls, in honor of adventurer Bear Grylls. It was doubly pleasing to watch the female with the baby beaver as she was orphaned early. The kits stay with their parents for around a couple of years before moving on to other territories to start a family.
Baby Beaver And Its Parents Will Create A Unique Ecosystem
The rodents, which are semi-aquatic in nature, are famous for their ‘ecosystem engineering’ skills. They increase biodiversity in the areas they inhabit and help to manage flooding. The unmanaged territory that is their home in the estate has been transformed into an open wetland. The diverse habitat they helped create will benefit various wildlife including grey wagtails, moorhens, sparrow hawks, and kingfishers.
Beavers use mud, stones, trees, and vegetation to create their dens. This slows down the water flow wherever they inhabit and creates a unique ecosystem of dams, channels, and ponds that also attract delicate plants including marsh marigold and sanicle. The deadwood is invaluable for woodpeckers, owls, bats, and invertebrates. A few Otters too have been spied at the area where the adults and the baby beaver call their home.
Hunting for fur, meat, and their scent glands had led to the extinction of the beaver population by the 1600s. But they have been reintroduced at various wetlands since 2000.
The transformation by just a family of beavers was amazing, said the project manager of National Trust, Ben Eardly. The variety and number of new wildlife were an achievement.