In this activity, participants will identify characteristics common to a beaver, and then walk outside to look for signs of beaver activity. When this activity is conducted with youth, family, or general public audiences, appropriate objectives for the activity include: Participants will understand that animals have a variety of adaptations to help them survive. Participants will be able to name three adaptations beavers have for living in the water.
Introduce this activity by saying something like,“Today we are going to talk about a Pennsylvania mammal that is perfectly adapted to living underwater. Does anyone know what animal that might be? (Beaver) What does it look like? ”“Instead of talking about them, let’s build one!”
1. Ask for a volunteer. Be sure to mention that they will probably look very silly and will probably be laughed at, but assure them it will be in good fun.
2. Have the group name characteristics that would help a beaver live in the water, especially in winter. As each characteristic is suggested discuss why and how it could aid or hinder survival. Put on the item that represents that adaptation.
Fur coat – keeps animal warm in winter waters
Rain poncho – mimics guard hairs coated with oil to keep animal dry
Webbed feet – used to aid swimming
Nose plugs – ability to hold breath and prevent water inhalation
Little Ears –better streamlined, less heat loss
Tail –broad and flat, serves as a rudder, warning, propeller
Goggles – protect eyes under water and still are able to see
Non-webbed front feet – good for grasping
3. Review the adaptations once the “beaver” is complete. If possible, head outside to examine a beaver bank den and search for signs of activity along a river.
This is the last Unit and Lesson of the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Volunteer Training Manual for Southeastern Plains (Northern Piedmont) and Southeastern Coastal Plains (Middle Atlantic Coastal Plains).