Beaver Fact of the Week: A Darn Big Dam

Beaver dams vary in height and length depending on the features of the landscape they are built in. They do tend to fall within a common range of dimensions, however. The height of beaver dams found in nature is usually between one and three meters (3-9ft tall for my non-metric readers). A normal length can be anywhere from a couple meters across, all the way up to 100 meters (about the length of a football field). If the conditions are just perfect and the beavers are really hardworking then on rare occasions the dams can reach 500 meters in length.

That’s pretty big.

That being said, even the rare 500 meter long dams pale in comparison to the largest beaver dam on earth, which is found in a remote region of northern Alberta. This Canadian mega-dam is a whopping 850 meters long – about half a mile. That is a darn big dam. It’s hypothesized that the uber-dam started as three separate dams on a fairly flat landscape in the 1970’s, and over time the beavers continued lengthening the separate dams to hold back more water, and eventually the three already quite large dams merged together into the ultra-dam.

Here is a view of the world's largest beaver dam on Google Earth. The dark squiggly line separating the brownish area from the more green area is the dam. It's an incredible feat of engineering to create and maintain a dam this large for people - which makes it even more impressive that beavers built this whole thing without any outside influence!
Here is a view of the world’s largest beaver dam on Google Earth. The dark squiggly line separating the brownish area from the more green area is the dam. It’s an incredible feat of engineering to create and maintain a dam this large for people – which makes it even more impressive that beavers built this whole thing without any outside influence!

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