When a population of beavers settled on the River Otter in Devon last year, it was the first time these elusive mammals were confirmed to be living wild in the English countryside for 400 years.
When I saw these new born baby beavers I was totally overwhelmed and thought it must be a miracle
It was the wildlife story of the year.
And excitingly it continues, as the Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) has just revealed that they have had babies, meaning the colony could expand.
These baby beavers, also known as kits, have now been filmed for the first time by local filmmaker Tom Buckley.
The footage shows the kits being helped through the water by their mother, quite possibly having their first swimming lesson, or even their first time outside the burrow.
“When I saw these new born baby beavers I was totally overwhelmed and thought it must be a miracle.
“My first sighting of this year’s new born kits was when I saw their mother swimming with one of them in her mouth to an area nearby where their father was waiting to greet them,” Mr Buckley said.
A close shave
However, it was only after all the adults had passed full health checks earlier this year, that the colony was permitted to remain.
Like all new parents, the beavers will need a bit of space and peace at this time
This allowed the DWT and its partners to set up the River Otter Beaver Trial – an exciting project to assess the impact of these beavers on the local environment.
According to Mark Elliott from DWT, “The kits present us with a unique opportunity to study the development of a beaver population in the English countryside.”
The beavers have been very popular with local people. But Mr Elliott cautions that visitors wishing to see the kits for themselves should take care not to disturb them, keeping a respectful distance and dogs under control.
“Like all new parents, the beavers will need a bit of space and peace at this time,” Elliott said.
“The baby kits appear fit and healthy and the adults seem as if they are taking their parenting responsibilities very seriously, it tells us that the beavers are very much at home in this corner of Devon.”
Springwatch presenter and naturalist, Martin Hughes-Games, has been involved with the beavers from the beginning, and was there when it was discovered that the two females were pregnant.
“When we filmed the beavers having their medical check-up for Springwatch, we were excited to discover that two females were pregnant," said Hughes-Games.
"Clearly the Devon beavers are in great shape and have successfully come full-term. This really is history in the making!”
Read more about The Wildlife Trust’s efforts to bring back beavers to the UK on their website.
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Footage and stills credited to Tom Buckley / Devon Wildlife Trust.