Beavers that were released onto the Holnicote Estate on Exmoor in January of 2020 have built their first dam. It's also the first beaver dam to have been built on Exmoor for at least 400 years!
The last beavers were hunted out of existence in England over 400 years ago, both because their furry, water-resistant pelts made great hats and coats for humans, and because their meat was eaten too.
These new Exmoor beavers were reintroduced earlier this year as part of a National Trust project to restore streams and reduce flooding.
Beavers build dams to create deep pools that give them shelter from predators and a place to hide their food. But their dams also have the effect of working as natural flood defences, preventing flooding of human homes further downstream. Beavers are the second largest rodents in the world, after the capybara of South America. They can be up to 1m long, with a 50cm tail and weigh up to 30kg.
Wild beaver populations in Scotland have been growing since they were reintroduced in the early 2000s and individuals from populations along the River Tay in Scotland were used for the Exmoor reintroduction project.
As the beavers build more dams, opportunities for other wildlife will also increase, from amphibians and insects to birds and bats. Beavers are known as a 'keystone species', because their presence in a habitat can create opportunities for lots of other species too. You can find out more about keystone species here.