The Dorset Beaver Project family are thriving in their wetland habitat, with another litter of kits this year, says DWT’s Jack Clarke
Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce that two more beaver kits were born at the Dorset Beaver Project site this year. Two adult beavers were released into an enclosed area in 2021 – and since then, they have been hard at work creating their leaky dams across the site. In 2022 they expanded their family with three kits – the first to be born in Dorset for more than 400 years.
Beavers are social animals that live in small family groups, typically consisting of a dominant breeding pair and two generations of young. So DWT knew there was the potential to see another litter of kits born this spring. We were thrilled to discover a second generation of beaver kits, with two kits recorded so far in 2023. This brings the resident family total to seven beavers (two adults and five kits). The birth of these new kits is an extremely positive sign, telling us the beavers are happy and thriving in their Dorset home.
It took some time to confirm the total number of kits, as they spend their first month within the safety of the lodge – an underground chamber and burrow system – before beginning to emerge between dusk and dawn in early summer to explore the wetland surroundings with the rest of their family.
Beaver kits are born with the ability to swim but they stay close to their parents as they are vulnerable to predators when young. For the first few weeks, kits feed on their mother’s breast milk, but within six weeks they begin eating leaves, aquatic plants and tree bark – of which there is plenty in their enclosure! Beavers are strict herbivores and never eat fish – a common misconception.
The four-hectare enclosed site in west Dorset currently provides ample space for the family of seven, but the trust is working closely with expert beaver ecologists to plan the next steps of the project as the beaver family evolves, to ensure these influential mammals continue to thrive in the magnificent wetland they have created. We are extremely excited to monitor the progress of the beaver family – and we look forward to sharing updates on the adorable kits as they mature!
Beavers are known as nature’s engineers and their activities – including wetland creation by building dams and creating new channels – have the potential to increase biodiversity, filter out pollution and slow water flow during storm events.
To find out more, and perhaps ‘adopt a beaver’ for yourself or as a gift, visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.