Last July Barb Tucker and her husband delivered a tiny beaver kit to me. They had found it on the shores of their property on the south side of Lake of the Woods. It took a few days to make contact, and during that time, they had taken great care of the tiny mite.
It was an odd situation as beaver kits are normally born in the first and second week of May in these parts, but things happen in nature that don’t always make sense…but here I was once again the custodian of one of the most endearing wildlife I ever have had the honour of raising…or so I thought.
I have raised several beaver kits and they all had individual, strong personalities. But all were charming and easy going…Dewy was the exception.
Dewy, named after the Dew Drop Water cardboard carton he was delivered to me in, was an angry beaver. From the time he was a tiny kit he roared, and raged and tossed his body around in temper tantrums. “Want food…don’t want food…want swim…don’t want swim…want comfort…DONT TOUCH ME!!!” I had my hands full.
As in the past, I had to overwinter the little one. He was still so tiny by fall, I initially had to keep him in my rehab room in the basement of our house. May as well have put a Tasmanian devil down there. Each morning, I would have to collect up the materials he had gathered during the night. His treasures that he had hoarded into his crate would include brooms, dustpans, clean towels and sheets used for critter bedding (now sodden from his bath water), books, magazines, …he didn’t give a dam what it was, as long as he could move it. Finally, I was able to set up a pen for him in the garage (Sorry Bruce!). The garage is insulated but not heated and does not have water lines…so I was in it for the long haul…the long haul of water from the house to the garage … every day and twice a day…to refill his tub. And the tub had to be emptied of the dirty water, every day…and twice a day… I developed some pretty impressive upper arms by spring, I must say.
And the hydro bill to keep his little corner of the world warm enough…well….lets not talk about that. But most importantly, he thrived…and ranted, and raged and whined the whole winter.
And of course, as luck would have it … it was the winter from hell… long with many stretches of exceptionally cold weather. Okay, so now I’m whining.
I was happy when the day came he could be moved down to the enclosure by the pond. Last year, I had raised foxes in it, so all the substrate on the ground had to be scraped up and removed and more reinforcement against gnawing teeth had to be added.
Dewy seemed content with his new surroundings and was especially curious about the wild beaver who had wintered in the pond. The two adults and a kit from the previous year (a few months older than Dewy) would swim back and forth in front of his pen, wheezing and bugling at him. He ranted and raged and wheezed back at them.
As he grew older and bolder, he started to test the pen’s strength, tugging and pulling at the wire and timbers. Then he started to dig. Each morning I would add rocks to the hole but I knew it was only a matter of time he would succeed.
One morning I went to give him his rodent block and fresh browse, and was surprised when he didn’t come out of his crate to scold me. I went to check on him, and found him stretched out on his bedding, barely moving. When I touched his back, my hand came back bloody. I could feel caked blood and an open wound. This was not good. During the night he had made an opening under the pen, confronted the wild beaver and got into a fight. It is common for beavers when fighting to bite the back and spine of their opponent, crippling them. Dewy’s wound went right down to bone. He was wise enough to find his way back into the only home he knew and felt safe in.
A visit to the vet was not an option for this 30 lb furry fury, so I would clean and disinfect the wound several times a day, ensuring flies did not infest it. He was actually quite complacent with my tending, maybe having been bested by his opponent humbled him.
The healing process was long.
(but now, my internet is creeping and my critters are screaming for food so…to be continued)