By Patrick McShea
The mid-April news of cut redbud saplings along a Pittsburgh riverfront trail served as a public announcement that beavers reside in the city. The very same message is conveyed in We Are Nature, where a beaver taxidermy
mount holds position #25 in a wall display of thirty-three diverse species of
The display and an accompanying interactive panel invites visitors to consider how Nature is always around us, even in urban areas. In the case of Pittsburgh’s beavers, the species’ reputation as a dam builder is not reinforced along the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio. The city’s rivers are deep enough year-round to allow beavers to construct bankside lodges with underwater entrances.
Although the nocturnal habits of beavers keep them out public view, the big rodents leave evidence of their presence. The next time you’re on one of Pittsburgh’s riverside trails, look at the water edge for bark-stripped sticks that bear sets of parallel gnaw-marks made by beaver incisors.
Patrick McShea works in the Education and Visitor Experience department of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.