Did you know that beavers have orange teeth? Their teeth are orange because the outer enamel has a very high iron content. 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.
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?
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 up under their chin and let their big webbed feet do the swimming 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 hard 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 is 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 stopped 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 basic layers of dentin in the back and enamel in the front. But on the front surface, there is a thin layer of enamel with iron incorporated. 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 that are close to water safety fairly quickly to get to the higher branches.
Learn more: Why Do Animals Swarm?