Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 8, pp 1697–1701

Do Eurasian Beavers Smear their Pelage with Castoreum and Anal Gland Secretion


DOI: 10.1023/A:1019954020963

Cite this article as:
Rosell, F. J Chem Ecol (2002) 28: 1697. doi:10.1023/A:1019954020963


The scent-matching hypothesis postulates that scent marks provide an olfactory link between a resident owner and his territory, and that this enables intruding animals to recognize the chance of escalated conflicts. However, it is unclear if Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) mark their own pelage with castoreum from their castor sacs (i.e., the same material used in territorial marking); and/or if beavers mark their pelage with anal gland secretion (AGS) from the anal glands to waterproof the pelage and to act as a “living-scent mark.” Chemical analysis (gas chromatography and mass spectrometry) of hair samples from 22 live-trapped beavers revealed that castoreum compounds were not present in any samples, AGS compounds were found from 3 animals (13.6%) around the cloaca, and the compound squalene was found in all the samples. Beavers may release castoreum directly into the water when it meets an intruder. Thereby, the “scent mark” in the water can provide an olfactory link between a resident owner and his territory. Squalene, in contrast to AGS, may be essential for keeping beaver pelts water-repellant.

Beaver Castor fiber anal gland secretion castor sacs castoreum pelage GC-MS hair squalene Norway 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Environmental and Health StudiesTelemark University CollegeBø in Telemark
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway