Beaver breakthrough

Researchers team up with NRK to probe the inner life of beavers

Photo: NRK Natur
Beaver behavior inside their homes has long been a mystery, but no more.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

The beaver is a renowned wild animal. Its profile can be expressed in twos. There are two species of it, the North American Beaver and the Eurasian Beaver. It’s the world’s second-largest rodent, after the capybara of South America, and it’s second only to the human in its ability to change the environment. In the settlement of North America, trade in beaver furs was so lucrative in New Amsterdam (now New York), that the city seal includes images of two beavers. Its building skills in constructing dams and lodges are legion, so much so that it’s the symbolic mascot of two leading institutes of technology, Cal Tech and MIT.

Though understandably well studied, much remains to be understood about beaver behavior at home, inside a lodge. That’s about to change. Frank Rosell, a professor at Bø, one of the eight campuses of the University College of Southeast Norway (, and one of the leading beaver experts in Europe, teamed up with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and used a purpose-built beaver observation camera to record the private life of a beaver family inside its lodge over several weeks.

The resultant video was rapidly appreciated by beaver researchers around the globe, and this coming autumn it’s scheduled to be expanded to a televised rodent reality series.

This article originally appeared in the April 21, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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M. Michael Brady

M. Michael Brady was born, raised, and educated as a scientist in the United States. After relocating to the Oslo area, he turned to writing and translating. In Norway, he is now classified as a bilingual dual national.