Wild Things: Beavers and Flying Squirrels in DuPage County?

The largest rodent in North America, beavers are second only to humans in their ability to alter their habitat to suit their needs. From cutting down trees to building dams and lodges, beavers are indeed busy.

And while you might not see them much in the preserves, it’s usually pretty easy to spot their telltale signs — damaged trees, dams and lodges. “You don’t usually see them but you see signs of them,” said Stephanie Touzalin, naturalist at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.

Beavers will remain in an area as long as there’s food for them. “They basically don’t leave an area until the food is depleted. Once their resources are gone, they move out,” Touzalin said.

Beavers don’t mind squatters in their lodges, and usually muskrats move into abandoned beaver lodges.

Beavers are semiaquatic herbivores that spend a large part of their time in the water. You can find them — or signs of them — near water, Touzalin said.

Flying squirrels are also common in DuPage County preserves, but they too are elusive. You may never see one, but southern flying squirrels inhabit most of our oak-hickory woodlands. These chipmunk-sized creatures are strictly nocturnal and typically hang out in treetops, making it difficult to spot them.

Despite its name, the southern flying squirrel does not actually fly. It uses a membrane of loose skin on its sides to glide from tree to tree. They have a long, flat tail and big, black eyes.

To learn more about beavers, visit http://dupageforest.org/beaver_balance/

To learn more about flying squirrels, visit http://dupageforest.org/flying_squirrels/ 

Touzalin talks more about beavers and flying squirrels on Wild Things on WDCB Radio (90.9 FM).    


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