Beaver family succeed in mission to prevent flooding in Essex village

A pair of beavers which were reintroduced to the Essex countryside have been helping to prevent flooding in the area.

Pair of beavers Credit: ITV News Anglia

Last year two beavers were brought to the Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield as part of a pioneering trial to reduce flooding.

It was the first time since the middle ages that beavers had inhabited this part of the country, having previously been hunted to extinction.

The beavers being released Credit: ITV News Anglia

And it seems that they have been doing their job brilliantly - since their arrival there have been no floods downstream in the village.


Adult beaver with kit Credit: ITV News Anglia

After their arrival, the pair of beavers soon became a family of four.

ITV News Anglia reporter Hannah Pettifer and cameraman Tom Steedman filmed at the compound where the beavers live over three nights to see them in action.

One night, just before dawn, they were rewarded with the sight of a baby - called a kit - swimming into view, shortly followed by its mum.

The mother takes a handful of mud and packs it onto the side of the lodge while the kit pulls a branch under water to take to the family's lodge for food.

Russell Savory is a wildlife photographer who's been filming the beavers since they first arrived.

Seeing all the behaviours, living a life with them, first it was the two adults and wishful thinking that we were going to have kits, what a surprise, out they came. There's always something and that's what brings you back, be it in the summer or winter, I'm filming.

Russell Savory, wildlife photographer

The beavers feed on vegetation - Russell says they can make short work of a willow branch like this one.

Beaver eating a willow branch Credit: ITV News Anglia

Since the beavers were brought here as a trial to reduce flooding further downstream in Finchingfield they have built more than 20 dams which slow down the flow of water into the village. And the wetlands they've created release water during drier periods.

A beaver dam Credit: ITV News Anglia

All we did here was build a fence around the woodland and released two beavers, so day one we had a fence, and since then from two days in they built dams and the great thing is they build a dam, they maintain them, make them wider, respond to rainfall, work out where the water is going, I don't have to feed them, tell them what to do and they do a better job than we could have done anyway.

Archie Ruggles-Brise, Spains Hall Estate

With the arrival of the kits, the beavers have now doubled their workforce - digging, building, repairing and perfecting their new family home.

Beaver building a dam Credit: ITV News Anglia

  • Beavers are Britain's largest rodent and belong to the same group as rats, mice and voles.

  • Beavers live with their family, usually around five individuals which includes adults, kit and yearlings.

  • Beavers sleep throughout the day, preferring to come out during sunrise and sunset.

Source: The Wildlife Trusts

70-100cm

A beaver can grow up to a metre in length

10-15 years

Beavers can live for 15 years

18-30kg

A beaver's body can be as large as a Labrador

Rewilding Britain supports the reintroduction of beavers

More about beavers from the Woodland Trust