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Beavers



Beavers
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.06

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    additional, hence, anatomy, entrances, lifetime, civil, vegetation, propel, oval-shaped, doubt, calcium-rich, chisel-like, species, incisor, entire, among


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Beavers   

1     Beavers are, no doubt, among the best civil engineers of all animals! Living in rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, and swamps, beavers love to take on large-scale construction tasks. Many animals (like bees) build complex homes. But only beavers try to use tree branches, stones, and mud to block an entire waterway. That's right! Beavers are expert dam builders! Working together, members of a beaver family put up a dam to stop the water flow. They create a self-made pond perfect for a new home.
 
2     A beaver home is called a lodge. Most lodges are built in the middle of the pond that forms behind the dam. A beaver lodge has several entrances and one central chamber (room) for nesting. The central chamber is large, about 8 feet wide and 3 feet high. It stands a little above the water level, while the entrances are under the water. Having their doors below the surface is an ingenious idea! Most predators (like eagles and wolves) simply don't know where and how to gain access to an oval-shaped beaver lodge! But, not all beavers like lodges. For beavers living in marshy areas, they prefer digging tunnels in banks instead of constructing lodges. Nevertheless, their tunnels are still cleverly designed to keep the entry doors submerged.
 
3     When we think about beavers' skill in building dams and lodges, we may wonder, "How do these small animals do it?" To answer this question, we must look at beavers' anatomy. They are small –their bodies are no more than 4.5 feet long and weigh less than 90 pounds. But their sharp, chisel-like incisor teeth last for a lifetime. Like their other rodent relatives, beavers' incisor teeth grow throughout their whole life. Most mammals have teeth coated with calcium-rich enamel. But the enamel on beavers' teeth also contains iron. Iron makes beavers' teeth orange-colored and very strong. Hence, beavers have no problem using their teeth to cut down trees.

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