Scottish Beaver Trial visits the school on 30th April 2013

On Tuesday 30th April 2013, Olwen Hemmings from the Scottish Beaver Trial held a workshop about beavers at the school as part of the childrenís "Habitats" topic. Olwen works 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 and the project is proving very successful.

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 build dams.

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 would. 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 form Oly in June when they will be learning more about the beaverís habitat. Thank you very much to Oly and the Scottish Beaver Trial for a super day.

Text and photographs provided by Lismore Primary School on 30th April 2013

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