Thursday, November 03, 2011

PBS Nature: "Animal House": Beavers teach us a lesson about sustainability

I can remember a recurrent dream as a boy, “all about animals”, with tubeworms or monsters that looked like them – but not so last night with the PBS Nature show “The Animal House”, which focuses on the home construction skills of beavers and prairie dogs.

In Yellowstone, beavers can strip an area around of pond of most trees by gnawing through the base of trees with their iron teeth, to where ordinary wind will down them. The construction skills and communal life of the “rodents” (in their mid-lake “lodges” out of James Fenimore Cooper) are impressive. Beavers live in monogamous couples raising families.

The prairie dog also builds impressive underground tunnels and homes, and has an impressive language for inter-family communication, and has interesting ways of keeping out predators.

The lesson of the show is that eventually beavers have to move and rebuild.  Their “lifestyles” are not sustainable forever after too much deforestation.

The link for the film is here.
Here’s a similar National Geographic short YouTube video about beavers.

Wikipedia attribution link for American beaver picture.

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