Behavior

Mountain beavers do not hibernate and so are active throughout winter. They are primarily nocturnal but are frequently active for short periods during the day. They occur in concentrations sometimes referred to as colonies. However, they are not colonial but rather solitary, and the concentrations are likely simply sites of suitable habitat that form population foci. Mountain beaver have small home ranges (average males 0.7 ac [0.3 ha]; females 0.5 ac [0.2 ha]) and, within them, the animal excavates a burrow system with extensive runways. Generally, the burrow system is associated with structures like fallen logs, root wads, or large rocks. A log can act as the main route for an arm of the tunnel system. From this main arm, accessory tunnels extend to favored feeding sites or other structures. These traveling tunnels are generally near the surface and occasionally the roof collapses, exposing the subterranean runway. The burrow system leads deeper to separate underground chambers containing the nest, food larders, and refuse piles. The 1.6-ft (0.5-m) diameter nest chamber contains dry vegetation for insulation. Nearby are smaller feeding chambers where mountain beaver store food plants collected during forays aboveground. Smaller refuse chambers contain decaying vegetation left over from feeding. Other small chambers contain fecal pellets. Besides these, an earth ball chamber can occur containing stones or balls fashioned from soil, thought to be used to seal portions of the living quarters.

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