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Thread: Bugs on Beavers?

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    Member arrowslinger's Avatar
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    Default Bugs on Beavers?

    I was skinning some beavers today and noticed some small whiteish <sp> bug / worm looking things. I noticed the first one because I was skinning on a black surface. I noticed a few more after that so I started brushing the fur around by the back legs and tail and a couple would pop up and then burrow right back down into the under coat. They were tiny not quite as big as this - dash mark I just put in there, but real close. But the shape was the same as this - the dash mark. They wiggled like a worm. White to kind of clear in color. Not bright white, but against the black background they stood out. Beaver has been dead 3 days and kept cold but never froze. The other 3 had been dead about 2 weeks and frozen solid. No evidence of bugs on them. The beaver with the bugs and one of the frozen ones with no bugs came from the same hut? Any ideas what type of bug it is? Sorry I forgot take a picture. Wanted to clean up quick after that one so I might keep them from spreading to my dogs or clothes and into the house. Since I didn't know what they were, I didn't want to chance it. Hopefully I got 'em all cleaned up. but if they hit the floor I'd never see them and then they'd cling to the dogs or me and into the house. Going to let the new ones freeze for a while and see if that gets rid of them.

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    I only ever saw those once, and they were only around the base of the tail area. Usually the bugs I saw on beavers were the litle red ones that kind of look like ticks. If you find out what they are I'd be curious to know. My understanding is that you should'nt have to worry about them getting on you or your dogs, most furbearer parasites can only survive on the host species.

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    Default Beaver Lice

    Not sure what they are called, but all the ones I've seen are crab-like and brown in color, perhaps the size of a pencil eraser (a bit smaller).

    If you want to spend $19, you may be able to find out more:
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1374989

    I don't think these "lice" I've seen and am describing can spread to dogs, but not sure. I've never seen any "lice" like this on any other fur bearer. It can be pretty disgusting if you get a beaver with a lot of them and then when skinning they all start to crawl from the underfur. I've always wondered how they stay alive when a beaver is underwater for so long, figure since the water never actually touches a beaver's skin maybe there are air pockets right in the underfur.

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    Member arrowslinger's Avatar
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    Found this article and this sounds like the brown ones you guys describe, but these were little clearish, whitish <sp> wormy things about as big as a dash mark. I wish it was these ones below at least I'd have some info on them, and I'd know I don't have to bug bomb the shop, house and dogs.

    Thanks for the responses and keep them coming. I just saw another post pop up so hopefully I didn't repeat something someone else said.



    Article from Jul-Aug 2003 Buckeye Trapper

    by Marc Behrendt

    Anyone who has trapped, skinned or worked with a beaver has seen them. Those tiny “bugs” that seem to number in the thousands. Talking to trappers, I ask them what they think the tiny insects are, and the usual response is first a repulsive look, then occasionally a shiver of disgust. I have been told these creepy crawlies are lice, ticks, fleas, and “I don’t care, they are really gross!” Not one person knew the actual identity of these tiny creatures.
    These insects are actually tiny beetles, commonly called the beaver beetle, scientifically known as Platypsyllus Castoris. Measuring up to 3 mm (1/8 inch) in length, the beaver beetle is hardly threatening. It has a flattened body, has no eyes and no wings. Both adults and larvae feed on skin secretions and parasitic mites on the host beaver. It does not bite; it does not cause disease. It merely is crawling around, looking for a new host, since the present host seems to have encountered serious health issues.
    Beaver beetles are specific to beavers, though I remember trapping a mink a few years ago that had insects suspiciously resembling the beaver beetle. Do these parasites damage the pelts? The answer is a definite NO! Though incredibly abundant in the beaver’s fur, these external parasites eat only the dead skin and microscopic mites that live in the dead skin. They do not damage the fur at all.
    Beavers may host other parasites as well. Roundworms are a common parasite that lives within the beaver’s body, but does not cause death. These are tiny and white, usually coiled worms measuring up to 10 cm (4 inches) long. Another external parasite is the ear tick.
    Beaver beetles live on the beaver. There is actually another beetle that lives specifically in beaver nests. These nest beetles are in the same family as Platypsyllus Castoris, scientifically named Leptinullus Validus. It shall be called the beaver nest beetle for our purposes.
    If you know an insect collector, you may make a friend for life if you make available a fresh beaver from which live beetles can be removed. And if you are digging up a beaver den, to collectors, the nest beetles are close to being the Holy Grail of insects. If you wish to preserve the beetles for a collector who cannot be present, merely drop the insects into a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and the collector can mount the beetles from that medium.
    When their present host dies, beaver beetles either die or wander off to find a new beaver host. So to collect the beetles, a fresh beaver, less than 24 hours dead, is necessary. And if you find the little critters crawling around on the fur, there is no need to spray the fur with insecticide or toss it away. They are just tiny beetles that have just lost their home.

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    ohh man I was jjust about to post that similar page "beaver beetle" arrrgh back to the internet i go...

    If you cant stand behind the troops in Iraq.. Feel free to stand in front of them.

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    could they be anchor worms? found on fish ...maybe

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    Default Thanks arrowslinger

    Wow, learn something new every day, thanks for the info arrowslinger.

    And not to hijack this thread, but I saw the largest and creepiest beetle-type bug last year swimming in a beaver pond, diving and surfacing, was larger than a half dollar, stood there watching it for a half hour, couldn't believe it. Something else I'd like to identify someday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    And not to hijack this thread, but I saw the largest and creepiest beetle-type bug last year swimming in a beaver pond, diving and surfacing, was larger than a half dollar, stood there watching it for a half hour, couldn't believe it. Something else I'd like to identify someday.
    Mark, did it look like this? It's a giant water bug.



    For more details see the link below.
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...&ct=image&cd=1

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    Member arrowslinger's Avatar
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    Called the biologist in Palmer and Tony thought that he new what I was talking about. They just called back and said the description didn't match so they want a sample. I just went out to the shed and can't find a single one now. It has only been on the metal hoop for 3 and a half hours but it's stiff and frozen and no bugs moving so I couldn't find them. I combed through the undercoat and everything. I guess I'll have to get some off the next fresh one. In one way I hope it has them so I can find out what they are and in another I don't, so I don't have to worry about them. Biologist (Tony) said the critter they were thinking about is an underwater insect and uses the beaver as a host through the winter through it's larval stage. But it had a different description, so this is a different bug / parasite.

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    Default interesting

    I encountered these same whitish wormy critters a couple years ago on a small beaver I trapped under the ice. I never froze the carcass, but rather started skinning it immediately.

    I'd be interested to know what they were as well.
    -Pat

  11. #11
    Member arrowslinger's Avatar
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    Default more info on the beaver beatle but still not my bug

    Distribution and biology of the
    ectoparasitic beaver beetle
    Platypsyllus
    castoris
    Ritsema in North America

    (Coleoptera: Leiodidae: Platypsyllinae)

    For anyone that's interested, the link below has pictures and descriptions,
    of the bug (beaver beatle) listed above in my post #3 and the same one I think everyone else is seeing. Tells all about them but it's still not the bug I'm looking for. I was hoping to get a better picture of it in the larval or pupa stage.

    http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1107&context=insectamundi



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    Austin, yes it looked like that, but was black instead of brown. Could be viewing it in the water made it look black. Giant Water Bug...that's funny cuz I said it was a Giant Water Beetle <grin> when I told my wife and kids about it. Thanks for looking it up and the pic,

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    Nancy Lake Creek is full of those giant beetles, my colony traps were full of them a couple of years ago spring rat trapping.

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    Yeah, the one's I've seen in ponds looked black to me also...probably has something to do with the in water viewing. They are pretty creepy looking.

    ps. sorry about the size of that picture - not sure what happened with the cut and paste job?
    Last edited by Austin; 12-08-2008 at 14:21. Reason: added ps.

  15. #15
    Member arrowslinger's Avatar
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    Default They all seem to look the same

    1. Platypsyllus castoris occurs on the fur of beaver in North America and Europe. The beetle is dorso-ventrally flattened, possesses no eyes or wings, and has ctenidia over its body. Sometimes termed the "beaver flea." Both adult and larva feed on epidermal exudates. Some authors place this beetle within a separate family Platypsyllidae. Pictured in one of my previous posts, still looking for a picture of a larval stage.
    I guess I didn't read close enough and the link I posted a couple posts back was a reference to these two bugs

    Leptinillus aplodontiae is found on Mountain beaver along the Pacific Coast of North America.

    Leptinillus validus is found in the fur of beaver in North America. Larvae are scavengers within the beaver nest whereas the adults feed on host skin and exudates.

    If anyone finds a picture of the larval stage that is about the size of this dash mark - and looks like a very small maggot type worm please let me know. The biologist and I discussed that it wouldn't be a maggot due to the size and the fact that it was underwater in a 330 for at least a day, then on my porch from Sat. night until 7a.m. today when I started skinning beavers. None of the others had them. Two were from the same hut but all the others had been frozen, this was the only one that had not. Of the two from the same hut, one is the beaver with the bugs.

  16. #16

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    when I was in my teens we were out ice fishing on a beaver pond and found a giant water beetle ( about 3in long) frozen in the ice. I took it in to my highschool biology class and after it thawed out it came back to life and crawled out of the little dish it was in. I remember it really freaked a few of the girls out when they found it crawling on the floor. Good times.

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