Did you know that beavers have orange teeth? Beaver teeth are not naturally orange. Their teeth are a shade of yellow or light brown, not orange. Their teeth are orange because the outer enamel has a very high iron content. The orange coloration results from the iron compounds, specifically iron oxide or iron hydroxide, that are incorporated into the structure of their teeth during development.
This unique feature gives beavers’ incisors a distinct orange or reddish color. The iron content helps make their teeth strong enough to withstand all the chewing a beaver does in its busy lifestyle. Aside from humans, no other living animal does more to modify its environment for its purposes. The iron in the teeth also helps protect against tooth decay and damage caused by acidic substances in their diet.
Beavers are very good at making things wet. Beaver is a rodent. Rodents are the tiny meatballs of the field and forest. When people first discovered it, they didn’t know what it was. They called it the devil’s corkscrew because the devil has big bottles of wine. It’s the fossilized tunnel of Paleo castor, a beaver that lived 20 million years ago. At some point, the ancestor of the modern beaver got into swimming. It’s an excellent way to escape predators, especially if you’re a clumsy, waddling football of flesh on land.
Why are beaver teeth orange in color?
Beavers have continuously growing teeth because they adapt to their diet and lifestyle. Their incisors, the front teeth, grow continuously throughout their lives. Their teeth are powerful and well-adapted for their specific needs. The incisors of beavers, the front teeth, are particularly impressive in their strength and durability.
The beaver isn’t graceful, but in the water, it is graceful. Its paddle tail, which is more flexible than a cat’s, becomes a rudder. They took their little hands under their chin and let their big webbed feet swim underwater. A thin sea thru membrane covers their eyes, their nostrils close up, and they have extra flesh inside their lips that can close behind their front teeth. It allows them to carry things and even eat without a mouth full of water.
The other thing that happened along the way was that beavers developed a taste for wood. Anyone can get a taste for wood, but to eat it is another matter. You need the right equipment, and rodent teeth are the right equipment. There are two main complex substances in a tooth, dentin and enamel in our teeth. Dentin helps anchor the tooth, and enamel forms a little cap that sticks out of our gums.
Enamel is tough. The hardest thing our body is sure of now is protecting our teeth from wear and tear and forming a chewing surface. Enamel is made from densely packed crystals of a mineral called hydroxy appetite. Our teeth are made from something called appetite.
So when teeth grow in your mouth, hole dentin is formed in enamel layered on top of it. But when they are done, the cells that make enamel self-destruct and disappear, and that’s it. If you break your enamel, you can’t grow any back. That’s okay because we eat soft things like delicious meats and cheeses.
Rodents have some next-level teeth. Their front teeth never stop growing, and their enamel-producing cells don’t self-destruct. These orange teeth don’t have a root like ours do. These front teeth have two primary layers of dentin in the back and enamel in the front. But on the front surface, a thin layer of enamel is incorporated with iron. It makes it orange, but it also makes it extra hard.
Because of this, the front of the tooth wears down more slowly than the back. Teeth are essentially a self-sharpening chisel. Beavers only eat a very thin layer on the outside of the tree. That’s the living tissue where the nutrients are. They prefer smaller tender branches and even leaves. But they go through the ones they can reach near water safety fairly quickly to reach the higher branches.
Here are some interesting facts about beaver teeth:
- Beavers have incisors that grow continuously throughout their lives. This adaptation allows them to compensate for the wear from gnawing on wood and bark.
- The front surface of beaver teeth is coated with hard enamel, while the back surface is made of softer dentin. As beavers gnaw, the softer dentin wears away faster, creating a sharp cutting edge like a chisel. This self-sharpening feature helps them maintain effective teeth for gnawing.
- The incisors of beavers can reach lengths of around 5 cm (2 inches) or more. Their large size and strong structure enable them to conduct activities such as felling trees and constructing dams.
- Beaver teeth play a crucial role in shaping aquatic ecosystems. By gnawing on trees and building dams, beavers create habitats that benefit other species, promote water conservation, and help maintain biodiversity.
- Beavers have specialized cells in the dental pulp of their teeth that continuously produce new tooth material. This allows their teeth to grow and compensate for the constant wear caused by their gnawing activities.
These unique dental features and adaptations contribute to the beaver’s ability to manipulate its environment and thrive in its habitat.