The European Beaver (Castor fiber)
I had never seen a beaver before, until yesterday. We were driving back from the lovely small town of Villeneuve and decided to go through the petit ville that is Salles Courbaties to check the place out. Whilst on the way out we drove parallel to a delightful little stream, when a fairly large furry animal was spotted sitting on the bank. The car (well bus, we rented a rather large 9 seater) was immediately stopped and we all rapidly disembarked to see what it was. Much to my surprise we found a Beaver munching on some foliage perched on the bank. My first note was the size of it, I didn’t realise how large they were (incidentally they are Europe’s largest rodent, reaching lengths of 1m). The second surprise being the resemblance to Capybara (which of course makes sense, with them also being a large rodent – the largest).
Sadly, due to the poor lighting I didn’t manage to take a great photograph. However, I did manage to take some film footage of one munching on some plants and then swimming. This footage was actually of my second beaver sighting because as we edged closer, to get a photo, of beaver number one he elegantly dropped into the water with a plop. It then proceeded to swim beneath the surface plants and we never saw him again. After this disappearance we took a walk further along the stream to see if we could find anymore munching rodents. And we got lucky! Not even five minutes later we were watching another Beaver tucking into some dinner and I was able to get some footage of him. He then also swam away and we lost track of him (being semi aquatic and able to hold their breath for 4-5 minutes, tracking a submerged beaver isn’t easy!).
My first sighting of Europe’s largest rodent was incredibly exciting and satisfying with two individuals viewed in a beautiful setting. With their characteristic tails, typical rodent faces and awesome characteristics they have climbed the list and earnt a place among my favourite mammals. I hope to observe them again before I leave and get a better quality photograph! This is a very different styled post to my previous entries, just thought I’d mix it up a bit. Anyway I hope you all enjoyed it. Now go and find yourselves a Beaver to observe, it’s a pretty awesome wildlife experience.
For some reason I am unable to get my video onto my computer, so I will upload it when I get back from France.