Monday, June 4, 2012

Episode 113 (Week of June 4, 2012): American Beaver

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 4, 2012.

This week, we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making this splat and splash.  And here’s a hint: You can guess this if you get BUSY.


If you guessed a beaver, you’re right!  That was the sound of an American Beaver smacking its tail on the water surface as the animal submerged.  The tail slap is a defensive behavior for a beaver protecting the territory around its colony.  Beavers live either in burrows dug into stream, lake, or pond banks, or in lodges they build from wood and mud, with entrances below the water surface.  The animals build dams to deepen the water level and provide more protection from predators.  Besides their paddle-like tail, beavers have several other adaptations for aquatic life, including a streamlined body covered by well-oiled fur; webbed hind toes; coverings to keep water out of their nose and ears; and a flap behind their teeth to allow them to use the teeth underwater.  After European settlement of North America, trapping and habitat changes eliminated beavers from much of their natural range, including from Virginia by the early 1900s.  But reintroduction into Virginia starting in the 1930s led to successful reproduction, and beavers now occur again throughout the Commonwealth.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


A short video clip of the beaver heard in today’s episode, showing the animal swimming and making a tail splat, is available on You Tube at

And below are two photos of this week’s sound-maker.  Photos, video, and audio were all taken along a Virginia stream on June 2, 2012.

Sources: Information on the American Beaver was taken from Virginia Water Central, April 2005 (pp. 14-15), available online at; and from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web site at (accessed 6/4/12).

Recent Virginia Water News
            For news relevant to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at

Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.