It’s a widely known fact that beavers are skillful in creating dams and lodges from the raw materials surrounding them. Known as the forest engineers, beavers use bark, twigs, branches, grass, and mud to construct reliable and resilient dams and lodges that will provide them protection from predators.
The front of a beaver’s incisors is made from sturdy enamel comprised of iron compounds. These iron compounds make their teeth super durable, lessening their chances of chipping teeth. The iron compounds also prevent tooth decay and provide resistance to acids.
How Do Beavers Use Their Teeth to Create Dams?
Beavers are well known for their dam-making abilities. Primarily consisting of logs, branches, and mud, beaver dams are durable barriers made to create deep bodies of water, protecting them from predators. With that said, as trees and branches are essential to produce a reliable beaver dam, how do beavers use their teeth to aid in dam constructions?
One of the distinct features of these large rodents is their massive teeth. According to ADW, the upper incisor of beavers measures 20 to 25 mm in length. A beaver’s teeth continue to grow as they age, but the daily act of gnawing and chewing on a wide range of bark, twigs, and plants trims them down. (Source: Beaver Solutions)
With powerful jaws and strong teeth, they fell trees in order to build homes and dams, often changing their environment in ways few other animals can.Alina Bradford, Live Science
With large, strong teeth and an equally powerful jaw, beavers can cut down trees with only their teeth, allowing them to use the bark and twigs of the tree in dams and lodges. Moreover, a beaver’s teeth, including their molars, are self-sharpening, preventing their teeth from becoming ineffective and dull. (Source: A-Z Animals)
What’s Unique About Beaver Teeth?
Given that beavers can use their teeth to chop down trees, what makes beavers’ teeth so strong in the first place? The answer to the durability of beavers’ teeth lies in the color of their teeth. Known for the orange color of their teeth, one might think that it’s due to their diet, but in reality, it’s because there’s iron in the beavers’ teeth enamel. (Source: Contemporary Dentistry)
The front of their incisors is made from really tough enamel which contains iron compounds. This is the reason that they are rust-colored orange. These iron compounds make their teeth super strong durable and less likely to suffer any cracks or chips. So, the iron in their teeth means that beavers are capable of gnawing through tough wood really fast without any tooth problems. In fact, they’re so strong that a beaver can fall an eight-foot tree in only five minutes!Hannah Ward, A-Z Animals
Not only does the iron compounds in their enamel make their teeth sturdy, but it also prevents tooth decay and makes their teeth resistant to harmful acids, as revealed by a research paper published in 2015. The orange-colored teeth enamel of beavers proves to be much more sturdy than regular enamel, even those treated with fluoride. (Source: Science)