Saskatoon

Orphaned beaver kits learn to swim at Salthaven wildlife centre

Four orphaned beaver kits are testing out their growing strength as they learn to swim at Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation West.

The kits were cold, weak and hungry when they arrived at Salthaven in May

Orphan beaver kits learn to swim in Saskatchewan. 0:28

Four orphaned beaver kits are testing out their growing strength as they learn to swim, weeks after they arrived at Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation West as cold and weak newborns. 

The Regina-based wildlife centre recently shared a video showing one of the kits tentatively sliding into a wading pool then diving under the surface, taking to the water like a natural.  

"The kits sure are getting the hang of this swimming thing," the centre wrote in a post on social media. 

The young beavers arrived at Salthaven in early May after trappers found them next to their mother, which they caught in a trap near Fort Qu'Apelle.

This critter is being looked after in Regina for an eventual return to the wild. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

"They had trapped a female beaver, and in the trap next to her there was four newborn beaver kits," said Salthaven director of rehabilitation Megan Lawrence, adding that the hunters felt bad about the orphaned kits and knew they needed help to survive.

 "So they brought them to us right away and we've been caring for them ever since."

Lawrence said the kits were cold, weak and hungry when they arrived at Salthaven, so they were initially kept in an incubator and fed a special formula about eight times a day.

The four kits feed through bottles or syringes. (Tory Gillis/CBC)

The young beavers doubled in size during their first two weeks at the centre, becoming more social and chatty as they grew. 

The next step in their feeding regime was to introduce solid foods, including sticks, because the animals can eat and digest the inner bark on some trees.

When the kits were two weeks old, Salthaven workers were slowly trying to introduce them to water, providing a paddling pool to try out their natural swimming instincts. 

Eventually, the four siblings will be transferred to another, larger facility outside of Regina where they can get better at using the skills they'll need to survive and thrive in the wild.

Right now the four beaver kits are feeding on special formula, between six and eight times per day. (Tory Gillis/CBC)

Lawrence says it's not correct to turn in every orphaned animal, but in this case she says it was good that the trappers recognized the kits needed help and could improve under Salthaven's care.

"Especially if they know it's orphaned — in this case we knew mom had passed away — then definitely call a wildlife rehabilitator for help, and don't try to raise them yourself."

Two of the orphaned beavers that are being cared for at an animal rescue shelter in Regina. (Neil Cochrane/CBC)

With files from Tory Gillis