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Beaver Castor/Scent Mound (and Track and Sign)
Beaver Castor/Scent Mound (and Track and Sign)

Beaver Castor/Scent Mound (and Track and Sign)

In “Beaver Scent Mound Construction,” Janet Pesaturo writes:

Like many other animals, beavers are territorial, and use scent to mark ownership. On the shore of their pond, they create piles of leaves, sticks and other debris, much of it dredged up with mud from the bottom of the pond. Some of these mounds are small piles as you can see here, while others are large, conical heaps, occasionally exceeding 18 inches in height, as in the photo below. Beavers carry small amounts of debris in the mouth, and tote larger loads between the front paws and chin, as you will see in the video. They stack it onto the mound, then straddle the top as they anoint it with castoreum from the caster glands, secretions from the anal scent glands, or both. You might recognize the characteristic odor when you visit a beaver pond. The smell is most intense in spring, when beavers are zealously scent marking to announce to dispersing young beavers that this area is already occupied. In fact, you may be able to follow your nose to a beaver scent mound, once you learn the characteristic odor.


And in “Beaver Scent Mounds,” Mary Holland writes:

This is the time of year when two-year-old beavers leave their lodges and strike out on their own, primarily because the woods surrounding a pond usually can’t support more than one family of beavers. Beavers are exceptionally territorial; once they’ve established a lodge, they do not take kindly to interlopers. In order to make this perfectly clear to house-hunting young beavers, in the spring resident beavers build what are called scent mounds — piles (up to three feet in height, but usually much smaller) of mud, leaves and pond-bottom debris — around the perimeter of their territory. They then smear castoreum, a substance that comes from their castor sacs, over the mound. Chemicals in the castoreum convey to roaming young beavers that this particular pond is spoken for.


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