Wife swap beavers shatter illusions

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IT WOULD make for a particularly wild episode of Wife Swap. Two sets of beavers involved in the Scottish Beaver Trial have swapped partners – challenging the long-held belief that the animals mate for life.

The couples, named Elaine and Eoghann and Trude and Christian, were originally paired in captivity and are thought to have swapped partners last autumn. Their bed-hopping antics are believed to be the first time such activity amongst beavers has been officially recorded.

“Christian and Trude set up home and built a lodge together and were behaving totally normally,” said Simon Jones, project manager of the Scottish Beaver Trial, which has been montioring the beavers’ behaviour in the Knapdale Forest in Argyll, where a small number of the animals have been released into the wild over the past three years.

“Then Christian disappeared and at first we 
assumed he’d died. It wasn’t until we brought them in for an annual 
assessment and tested their microchips that we realised that Christian was now living with Elaine, who had been partnered with Eoghann a few kilometres along the water, while Eoghann had moved in with Trude.”

“It could be that Christian went exploring up the waterway and found Elaine, a female he was more interested in, and kicked Eoghann, the resident male out,” said Jones.

“Either way there would have been a fight as beavers are very territorial and can be very aggressive to other beavers.”