In August 2016, a mammal rehabilitator in Virginia reached out to CNC to see if we could take two non-releasable teenaged beavers. The rehabilitator had received a 2 month old kit in June 2015 after severe flooding left it orphaned, and with damage to the webbing of the left rear foot and a compromised right rear leg. The second beaver kit arrived in September 2015 at only 6 weeks old, meaning that it was born very late in the season and had little chance of survival. Additionally, it was found alone in the front yard of a residence after storms passed through the area. After coordinating with several state and federal government agencies, CNC was given authorization to accept the beavers and they arrived in October. After undergoing quarantine and health assessments, the two beavers went on exhibit in November 2016.
The Life of Beavers
Beavers live in family groups or colonies that include a breeding pair and four or five offspring which range in age from newborns to two years. At the age of two, kits (young beavers) leave their parents’ lodge and establish colonies of their own. In poor habitats, where new colonization sites are limited, the kits may stay with their parents longer. During this time, the young learn valuable skills from their parents while contributing to the colony’s work force. This social structure is important because of the methods beavers use to ensure their survival require a great deal of skill, strength and cooperation among family members.
The Life of Opossums
The female exhibit opossum was orphaned when she was too young to survive on her own and was taken to a mammal rehabilitator. Unfortunately, she was attacked by a cagemate who damaged her tail, requiring it to be amputated. Because opossums use their tail as a fifth appendage for balance and security when climbing, she was deemed non-releasable. Chattahoochee Nature Center received her in July 2015 and she was placed on exhibit in October.
Opossums’ body temperature is 94˚F – 97˚F. Because the rabies virus does not survive for long in animals with body temperature under 98˚F, it is exceptionally rare for an opossum to carry the virus. They are true omnivores and can eat anything that fits into their mouths. In urban areas, one of their favorite prey items is cockroaches! However, they are quite short-lived, surviving an average of 2 years in the wild and 3-4 years in captivity.