In this article, Rabbi Samuel Waldman elucidates how the divine hand is present in every intricate detail within the marvels of nature.

In the last article we mentioned how beavers have all the knowledge and ability to be able to stop (or significantly slowdown) moving streams. The idea was for them to be able to raise the water level high enough for them to be able to make themselves living quarters called a lodge. These abilities are 100% instinctive. Many experiments have been made where beavers were taken away from their parents at birth. When old enough to go out to build a dam they were released into the wilderness. They knew how to knock down (fell) trees with their specialized teeth as well as any experienced beaver. But even more, they built a perfect watertight dam in moving water without any mistakes. They also went on to build a typical lodge without having ever seen a dam or lodge since their birth! Amazing!

So, once the dam is built, the beavers immediately go on to build their lodge. There’s tremendous “wisdom” and planning that goes into these lodge structures. First, they build a huge mound of sticks, twigs, rocks, leaves, branches, and vegetation that looks like a littler isolated island in the pond. Then, they hollow out the living area and the entrances which extend down into the surrounding water. The walls can end up being two to three feet wide! This helps for strength and it helps to keep the warm air from their body heat to stay contained in the lodge. Then the outside and inside of the walls are plastered over with mud and other debris that dries out and makes for great insulation and a very strong, safe, and protecting wall and roof! However, low and behold, at the very top of the roof, they don’t plaster it shut. Why not? They leave over a small lose pile of twigs and branches at the top of the lodge. This acts as their ventilation source since the walls are so thick and properly insulated that no air enters through them! Do you think they could figure all this out by accident and thereby leave over a ventilation source in the roof? Of course not! This and everything else wonderous that they do is all through instincts that Hashem pre-programmed in them.

If you look carefully at the drawing, you will see that on both sides of the bottom of the lodge there’s underwater entrances. As we mentioned, the idea of the lodge is to have a safe place from predators who can’t go underwater. The beavers swim up these entrances which are somewhat long tunnels. (They are longer than the picture indicates.)  Since the tunnels get a lot of wear and tear since the beavers are constantly going in and out of these tunnels, therefore they are lined with lots of mud, which solidifies it into a strong clay, so that they can go up and down  without it breaking. There’s usually one entranceway that is much wider than the others. That’s because they always need to bring in food, which are mostly branches, so they need a wider space for that transfer. They will trim down the branches once they are in the lodge.

As they enter the lodge there’s basically two levels. The first level is just a little above the water level. There they come up onto the first level and dry themselves off. The floor is covered with grasses, some fresh and some dried out, and wooden chips are also on the floor covering. There they will groom themselves. It’s also where they eat. On a slightly higher level is their sleeping quarters. They make a bed out of the wooden chips and shredded particles that are all by-products of their previous hollowing out of the mound. There’s usually plenty of room so that they can even stand straight if they want to. The beavers also plan ahead for the winter. In the fall time, right near the lodge, they will store away a very large amount of tree branches with leaves on them. From this stash of branches, they will bring some into their lodge every few days to eat them. They typically shove the stick branches deep into the mud and put things on top of them in order to hold them down under the water for later use. This is great planning skills put into their instincts, of course by Hashem.

OK. So, these are the main points about the beaver that I wanted to write about. The amazing construction knowledge, and water regulating knowledge that they have is IMPOSSIBLE to have come about by accident! That’s common sense. The instructions to all these abilities are clearly put into their brains by Hashem!  As we mentioned in the first article, the knowledge of the beavers match those of humans who went to take courses in school about hydro engineering!

However, I must briefly discuss 3 more things. One is that as the below picture shows, sometimes beavers will make their homes in the banks on the side of the river and they won’t make a lodge. If the water of the river is high enough, they will make these bank burrows. The idea is similar to a lodge, and a lot easier to make! The “plan” is that the beaver has to be able to have enough depth in the water that it could easily dive in and swim around AND be able to have enough depth to also be able to drag large logs and branches underwater to make the dam and the lodge.  If there’s not enough depth in the river as is, that’s when they are “forced” to make a dam in order to raise the level (depth) of the water in the river. That will also lead to needing a lodge to be built.

The tunnel is from under water and it goes up many feet into the bank of the river. There too they will have two levels or perhaps two separate rooms, one for the eating and grooming and one for sleeping and there’s a little air vent attached as well.

The next point to know is that when they knock down trees and they are a bit too far from the edge of the river, then in that general area they dig out of the ground a thin canal, about two feet deep and one to three feet wide.  This gets connected to the river, which fills them up with water so that once the tree is broken into pieces, they can easily transport those pieces of wood by floating them through the canal down into the river. This helps them avoid the unnecessary dragging of the heavy pieces of wood to the river. Once again, we see planning and creative work being carried out, all pre-programmed into the beaver by Hashem!!

The final point to be made is about their ability to stay up to 15 minutes under water! [The average time they stay under water is three minutes, but when escaping a predator, they want to remain hidden under the water for as long as possible, and they can stay under water for up to 15 minutes. How are they able to this? (Only a few animals are capable of staying under water for such prolonged time.). This is possible due to several factors. First, when these animals dive in the water, they slow their heart rate and — obviously — stop breathing, and their bodies also adjust how their blood flows. They keep their blood away from their extremities (outer limbs) and instead concentrate the blood flow mainly around their brain, heart and muscles, thereby providing more oxygen that’s contained in the blood for the main organs that need it. More importantly, these animals have special proteins called myoglobin, which binds with oxygen in their muscles. Humans have myoglobin too, but not in the quantities that aquatic mammals do. The high levels of myoglobin in their muscle tissue give beavers a larger supply of oxygen to draw from while under water, allowing them to stay under for longer. In diving mammals like beavers, myoglobin is 10 times more concentrated in muscle tissue than it is in humans. All these processes help them have greater usage of the oxygen in their blood. Now, how do they “slow their heart rate”? Do you know how to slow your heart rate? It is clearly pre-programmed by Hashem that when they dive in the water their heart should slow down, which is IN SPITE of the fact that they are swimming underwater, and usually quite vigorously, which as we know would usually cause the heart rate to quicken quite a bit, nevertheless Hashem made their heart slow down for its survival. All these unique capabilities of the beaver cry out VERY LOUDLY, HASHEM YOU CREATED ME!! I am NOT an accident!!

מה רבו מעשיך ה’!  

Leave a Reply