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Beavers, the largest rodents native to our continent, eat whatever is available to them. Most of all,
however, they enjoy aspen trees of any size. In late fall, they search for food and medicines in their
habitat to store for the winter. Beavers live in family groups with mothers and fathers pairing for life.
The young are usually conceived during the winter and are born about three months later. The beaver's
large deep-orange teeth are capable of downing tall trees to make dams and lodges. Beavers are the
best engineers in the world of the four leggeds. Unlike the two legged engineers, beavers repair and
build without contracts.
The design and construction of their dams and lodges are central to the ecology of northern
Saskatchewan. A number of animals depend on the beaver, each in their own way. The relationship
between six animals and the beaver represents a central feature of the Cross-Cultural Teaching Units
project. The construction of each of the six units has depended on the local community for guidance
and help. The units' future implementation in a school will certainly depend on that school's
community, for similar guidance and support.
Six animals that depend on the beaver are listed below, along with their association with one of the six
teaching units (Snowshoes, Nature's Hidden Gifts, The Night Sky, Survival in Our Land, Wild Rice,
The wolf depends on the beaver because a beaver is good food for the wolf in late fall. A wolf lies in
wait for a beaver to come out of the water to forage or to gnaw down an aspen. In the winter, the wolf's
paws help it walk on top of snow drifts like Snowshoes.
The moose depends on the beaver in early spring when the cow brings her calves to the beaver pond
for protection. The calves feed on new plant growth in the pond while mother stands guard. The calves
also learn which plants make good medicine -- Nature's Hidden Gifts.
The deer depends on the beaver in early spring when a doe brings her fawns to the beaver pond for
protection and for the fresh plant growth. One characteristic of a deer that helps them protect their
young at night is their keen night vision, being able to see by the light of The Night Sky.
Song birds depend on the beaver because these birds build nests in the willows that grow from
abandoned beaver lodges. Willows give birds more protection when willows grow from an old lodge.
Song birds are particularly adept at Survival in Our Land.
The duck depends on beaver ponds to nest and raise a family. The pond is their home. Ducks are
particularly fond of Wild Rice, which was the original reason for introducing wild rice to
Saskatchewan (to increase the duck population for hunting).
The muskrat depends on the beaver because the beaver pond is the muskrat's habitat. Sometimes a muskrat will even live in a beaver lodge. Muskrat fur is popular with people who are Trapping.