Two Things About Beavers

Thing #1: “But he did not take into account that the best of men, free from all wickedness, would join together the better to accomplish their goal, just as birds flock together the better to travel in company. Or as beavers congregate by the hundreds to construct great dams, which could not be achieved by a small number of them… That is the foundation of society amongst social animals, and not fear of their kind, which hardly occurs among the beasts.” Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, New Essays, III, 1. (He clearly forgot to add the words, “visible from outer space” after the hyperlink.)

Thing #2: Even more exciting than Leibniz’s thoughts about beavers, the first beaver kits (=baby beavers) for a very, very long time indeed have been born in the wild in Britain! Over here; with slideshow pics here.

11 thoughts on “Two Things About Beavers”

  1. Kropotkin was, I think, more interested in musk-rats than in beavers, though he did observe that “with the beavers, the muskrats, and some other rodents, we already find the feature which will also be distinctive of human communities — that is, work in common”.

  2. Mmm, this “visible from outer space” thing is a bit strange. It seems fashionable at the moment to bring Alan Davies to task on QI for suggesting that the Great Wall of China is actually visible from space, but I agree (as a fellow Paul S) that everything sort of is, with the right equipment.

    kits seems to be a popular word for small mammal offspring. It’s the name for rabbit babies.

  3. Presumably “kit” = “kitten”, and this is really just a generic word for young animals (just as you get seal pups as well as dog pups).

    But I thought a small rabbit was a bunny rabbit?

  4. Or, as Ogden Nash put it:

    Whales have calves,
    Cats have kittens,
    Bears have cubs,
    Bats have bittens,
    Swans have cygnets,
    Seals have puppies,
    But guppies just have little guppies.

  5. “I thought a small rabbit was a bunny rabbit?”

    Really? Surely any rabbit is a bunny rabbit. Nothing small about Bugs Bunny, for example.

  6. Well, I looked up “bunny” is the dictionary, and it said “a night-club hostess whose costume includes rabbit-like tail and ears”, which doesn’t really clear things up.

  7. Similarly “pussycat”, which means any cat to whom you wish to apply it.

    In Spanish the problem doesn’t exist because there’s a generic -ito. Puppy: perrito. Kitten: gatito. Little rabbit: conjeito.

  8. Once again, you are all losing the thread of your remarks, as Bertie Wooster would put it. The matter at hand is the looming plague of beavers, surely the most destructive of all the rodentia. I confess that the reintroduction of a formerly vanished species is, from one point of view, to be welcomed. But from my position in the wilds of New York State — where I can almost hear the incessant chewing noise as I type — the failure to appreciate the full implications of the re-beavering of Britain is a cause of some discomfort, even alarm.
    BEAVERS EAT TREES, or, more precisely, the inner bark of trees. How do they gain access to this inner bark, one may well ask. I think continued surveillance of the Scottish beaver kits, who won’t stay cute for long, will answer this question.

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