Wild creatures among us: The shy mountain beaver shows his face in Lake Forest Park

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Mountain Beaver in Horizon View Park
Photo copyright Breck Haining


Breck Haining reports that "While walking along the path on the west side of the reservoir toward Horizon View Park I happened across a young Mountain Beaver. This is a photo I took with my smartphone.

"The thing that surprised me most about the this Mountain Beaver was that it seemed to pay no attention to people who were passing. Other Mountain Beavers I have seen hide quickly when they detect someone’s presence. I was able to get fairly close to this one to take the attached photo. Then it scurried away."

This is not the first time that Breck has encountered a mountain beaver in Lake Forest Park.

Mountain Beavers live and travel in burrows - many in Lake Forest Park
Photo copyright Breck Haining 

The following is from an excellent blog post: The Mountain Beaver That is Not a Beaver by Matthew L. Miller

It can be difficult to compare the mountain beaver to other mammals because it’s the sole surviving member of its genus, Aplodontia and its family, Aplodontiidae. Mountain beavers (Aplodontia rufa) are a mammal of the Pacific Northwest. 
There are isolated populations along the California coast, at Point Reyes and Point Arenas. There are other populations in the California Sierra. The mountain beaver is also found along coastal forest ranges in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, where it is a common if seldom seen creature.

Miller's article can be read here:

Mountain beavers are rarely seen or photographed
Photo copyright Breck Haining

According to Miller,

Mountain beavers are not beavers. They are not closely related to beavers. They don’t look like beavers. So why the name?

“They actually do chew down trees, but only little saplings for their bark,” says Hopkins (referred to earlier in the article).

The similarities end there. They have a short furry tail compared to the beaver’s famous paddle. Mountain beavers don’t build dams; instead they live in tunnels and often use tunnels to move through their forest homes. They need access to a regular supply of fresh water, and they can swim well if necessary, but they prefer their tunnels to the semi-aquatic life of beavers.
 
There have been other reports of mountain beavers in Lake Forest Park, but few photos before this.



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