Baby beaver born on Exmoor for first time in 400 years

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A baby beaver has been born on Exmoor for the first time in 400 years.

It was spotted on night cameras set up on the National Trust's Holnicote Estate.

The arrival of the baby beaver - which is called a kit - follows the reintroduction of the animals to the estate last year.

Footage shows the six-week-old kit swimming with its mother back to the family lodge.

The kit was spotted swimming with its mother Credit: National Trust

The animals were reintroduced because they can help restore ‘at risk’ habitats and benefit nature to help tackle declines in biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Jack Siviter, who is one of the rangers on the Holnicote estate, said: “We first had an inkling that our pair of beavers had mated successfully when the male started being a lot more active building and dragging wood and vegetation around the site in late spring.

"The female also changed her usual habits, and stayed out of sight, leaving the male to work alone. It was then several weeks until we spotted her again, and this is when our suspicions were confirmed that she had given birth, due to having very visible teats.

“We are particularly pleased for our female, nicknamed Grylls due to her survival instincts, as she didn’t have the easiest start to life being orphaned at an early age. As a first-time mum she seems to be thriving and it’s great to see her with her new kit. 

“The family should now stay together for the next two years before the kit will naturally want to go off to create a new territory of its own."

One of the beavers feeding at dusk on the Holnicote Estate in Somerset. Credit: Nick Upton and National Trust

Beavers have been missing from the British countryside since they were hunted to extinction during the 16th century.

They are now playing a vital role in watercourse and flood management on the estate and creating an environment that is attracting more wildlife and diversity of species.

Since they were introduced just 18 months ago, the beavers have been busy creating a dam complex made from trees, mud, stones and vegetation.

This has helped slow the flow of water, creating ponds and new channels to hold more water in the landscape.

Project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote Ben Eardley said: “The transformation of the habitat has been remarkable. To go from dry unmanaged woodland to a more open wetland complex in such a short time has not only boosted the variety of wildlife that we’re seeing on the estate, but also numbers. 

"This is really important because the beavers are doing a lot of what we want to see in terms of conservation and land management. They are letting the light and the water into the site, helping natural processes and providing opportunities for a host of other wildlife."