By Randall Poulton
Last week’s question: Which of the following statements is least true about a beaver?
- Beavers must eat their poop to survive.
- Beavers are the among the smartest of all non human animals
- The beavers can grow to be well over 50 pounds.
- The largest beaver ever caught in modern times weighed nearly 100 pounds
- Beavers will work together as a team to move large trees and rocks
- You, dear reader, have almost certainly eaten food that contains processed beaver
The answer is “2”: There is some disagreement about how smart beavers are, but they are not near the top of any list. A beaver’s brain is tiny compared to their body mass. The smartest animals are chimps, orangutans, dolphins and elephants. Some lists put rats in the top ten (beavers and rats are both rodents). While beavers build dams and lodges that are impressive, that behavior is instinctual vs intellectual. Similarly, paper wasps, ants and termites all build amazing nests.
Number 1 is true: Beavers eat their number two! Beavers are unable to fully digest their food on the first try and have to “recycle” their poop to get the goodness out. The final poop product looks like sawdust.
Number 6 is true: Humans think beaver castor tastes like strawberries and thus it is a key ingredient in Twizzlers and strawberry ice cream!
This week’s Question:
One of the reasons Europeans originally came to America was to get rich by trapping beaver and selling the fur. It was “beaver dollars” that help make John Jacob Astor the richest person in America! Today, there are about 10 million beavers in North America. In the early 1600s, approximately how many beavers were busy damming up the “free flowing” rivers and streams of America?
A. Twice as many – 20 Million
B. 50 Million
C. Ten times as many – 100 Million
D. 250 Million
E. 400 Million