On Tuesday 30th April, Olwen Hemmings from the Scottish Beaver Trial came over to see us at Lismore Primary School to hold a workshop about beavers at as part of the children’s “Habitats” topic. Olwen works as the Education Ranger for the Scottish Beaver Trial based at Cairnbaan in Argyll. Beavers died out many years ago as they were captured for their beautiful fur or pelts. They have now been re- introduced to Argyll as part of a five year trial and the project is proving very successful so far.
The children were challenged to work through a series of tasks which helped them to find out a bit more about these amazing animals.
Firstly, they were presented with four pelts of different Scottish mammals and they were asked to decide which one belonged to a beaver and which ones were the pelts of other mammals such as deer, fox and badger. Surprisingly, the softest pelt with the longest hairs belonged to the beaver. This cosy coat enables it to keep warm even when it is wet.
Next, there were footprints to recognise – a beaver has webbed feet to enable it to swim efficiently.
The children were presented with a variety of different sized pictures of beavers and had to determine the size of an adult beaver. Beavers are much bigger than any of the children thought growing to 1 metre in adult life.
The children studied four different skulls, once again from different Scottish mammals. The beaver skull was clear with the very sharp front teeth or incisors used for cutting wood in order to feed on bark and build dams and lodges.
Several types of natural material which had been gnawed or bitten were then given to the children for examination – the task was to work out which marks had been made by a beaver.
Finally the children were challenged to build their own dam using sticks as a beaver wood. The dams were then tested to see how watertight they were.
Oly spent the afternoon taking the children down to Newfield Burn where the group discussed the likelihood of finding beavers there and whether it would be a good habitat for them.
The children found out lots of interesting facts about the beavers and are now looking forward to a second visit from Oly in June when they will be learning more about the beaver’s habitat. Thank you very much to Oly and the Scottish Beaver Trial a super day.