I was today years old when I learned what beavers eat.

They eat plants. Any stem smaller than about 2cm. Alder, willow. That sort of thing. Aspen is a fav.

...I thought they ate fish.


C.S. Lewis.
Ahem today we turn to The Chronicle of Narnia, "The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe." Please open your hymnals to chapter 7: "A day with the beavers"
What is the movie putting on the table? "Fish and chips!"

In the book, the boys actually go WITH Mr. Beaver as he goes fishing and captures fresh fish.

A great deal is made of how tasty it was.

C.S. Lewis, ruining ecology for all of us since 1950. :)
(The scientist I was speaking to about this, when I mentioned Narnia, exclaimed, "So THAT'S where it comes from!!" She had been wondering why so many people at her outreach events thought beaver ate fish!)

In things I have learned about beavers today: Yes, they are herbivores, but they are picky ones. They don't eat the whole branch!

Instead they eat their way around it. They're after the cambium, the bit just inside the bark.
This bit has the xylem (water) and Phloem (yom yom sugars) in it. The rest of the wood? Meh, just old dead stuff.

So they chew their way around, kinda like corn on the cob.
When they do this to a whole tree, eating all the way around? It's called "girdling" the tree (black bears also do this sometimes). This is bad, trees can die when their nutrients are disrupted.

Now, let us turn our attention to the back of the beaver.
The beaver butt has castor sacs next to the anus. These produce castoreum.

According to Vanessa Petro (wildlife ecologist @OregonState) when you wave some of this castoreum in front of kids, they say it either smells like barbecue sauce or butterscotch. I could see it.
Used to flavor ice cream, bourbon, tobacco. All our fav vices need that "beaver butt juice."

It's not used in the US now (though FDA has it under "generally recognized as safe") so no need to go all Food Babe. Synthetic is cheaper.

Now it's ARTISANAL. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3m885/a-history-of-flavoring-food-with-beaver-butt-juice
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