Animal Cognition

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 477–482

Tool-use in a display behaviour by Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber)

  • Liat R. Thomsen
  • Ruairidh D. Campbell
  • Frank Rosell
Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s10071-007-0075-6

Cite this article as:
Thomsen, L.R., Campbell, R.D. & Rosell, F. Anim Cogn (2007) 10: 477. doi:10.1007/s10071-007-0075-6


Tool use is rare amongst rodents and has never been recorded in connection with agonistic displays. We witnessed a behaviour, stick display (StD), involving tool use in free-living Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) that we conclude is a display behaviour. Two beavers were the main performers of the signal that was observed in at least six beavers from three families. Beavers reacted to displays by increased evasive and agonistic behaviours compared with their usual behavioural patterns when at territory borders. The behaviour was almost exclusively seen between rivals at territory borders. We suggest that the display is used in agonistic encounters, mainly in a territorial context.


Castorfiber Rodent Tool use Display 

Supplementary material

View video

"Stick display in beavers" The movie file S1 showing stick display. Two beavers from neighbouring territories are seen displaying at each other at the territory border. The view switches to a close-up of the animal on the right displaying. (WMV 9.42 Mb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liat R. Thomsen
    • 1
  • Ruairidh D. Campbell
    • 2
    • 3
  • Frank Rosell
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of AarhusAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Wildlife Conservation Research UnitUniversity of OxfordTubneyUK
  3. 3.Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Environmental and Health StudiesTelemark University CollegeTelemarkNorway