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The Beaver of the Mountains

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There’s a rat in me kitchen what am I gonna do? There’s a rat in me kitchen what am I gonna go? I’m gonna fix that rat that’s what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna fix that rat. Well we though it was a rat at least, then we thought it was a mole, but it was neither. A few weeks back I noticed my strawberry patch was getting thinner. And it wasn’t the strawberries going missing although they were just starting to ripen, nope, it was the entire plant. The left side of the patch suddenly had disappeared, then a day later about half the patch from left to right was gone. I probably should have done something at this point but I didn’t really pay attention because our back yard doesn’t get a lot of sun so I never get many strawberries anyway but this seemed odd. I assumed our puppy, a pug, was the culprit, I’ve seen her jump into our strawberry patch before and she likes to chew up all sorts of things she’s not supposed to. Another day passed about two thirds of the patch was now gone, this time I took a closer look, the leaves were pinched off near the bottom, like they were snipped with clippers. Then one day we were sitting outside on our patio having dinner with our neighbors, about 20 feet from the strawberries when we heard a rustling in the ivy above them. And then this guy popped out – at first nervous but then deciding we weren’t a threat he decided to walk over and nip off another strawberry leaf right in front of us.

So what is a Mountain Beaver? I’ve lived in the PNW most of my life and had never heard of such a thing. Well it’s not a Beaver, it’s a very unique rodent that is not closely related to any other. Despite their name they are not frequenting mountains but live mostly in Oregon and Washington between the mountains and the coast. A few live in BC and California but they are most common in our area here. They like hillsides and areas with easy access to water as they have to drink a lot of water to survive. They create tunnels and spend most of their time in them and are rarely seen. Mountain Beavers also live alone, they get together for about two months out of the year to mate, but even siblings are known to fight to the death when enclosed with each other. The most trouble they cause is to young forests, they like to eat young saplings so a good place to find them is a recently clear cut area or an area with a recent fire where new growth is occurring.

And clearly they like to eat my strawberry plants! Being that we enjoy nature, and this little Mountain Beaver seems pretty harmless we have no plans of removing him, maybe next spring I’ll net my strawberry’s though. It would be nice to eat some fresh strawberry’s one of these years. We have not seen this guy since, and from everything I’ve researched we likely won’t but we are honored that he decided to allow us to video and photograph him at least this one sunny summer day.

Things to Note:

  • An old but great article from the Seattle Times about Mountain Beavers you should read.
  • Need insect repellent?, order some here from Amazon – useful in your backyard or if your out hiking, camping, or birding!
  • Please check out our resources page to learn more about the equipment we used to take these shots!

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