Beaver, Miniature Logger, Or….?

See this freshly cut branch from a tree in the woods? You could walk on by or you could stoop down and ask what happened. If you did, you might think you had beaver nearby….but the marks are so small?….What miniature logger made these tiny cuts to this 25 pound branch?

One of our local naturalists, Kim Cabrera, drags the branch into the light and, with a clear explanation of the clues she uses, she identifies which local critter is responsible and why.

Now you are one step closer to understanding the world around you. Want to learn even more? Subscribe to Kim Cabrera’s YouTube Channel.



  • william tillman

    Good article.

  • Very interesting as I had no idea a Gray squirrel would do that. Excellent observation.

  • Wow their teeth must be Hella sharp,yikes!!

  • Great lesson. Thanks.

  • Busy as little…, squirrels?

  • Our city squirrels in Oakland stand on the free end of the branch while the naw it off between them and the tree. True, I saw it out my window of a third floor appartment! Was it a “whoops!”, or was it an ingenious way to travel down to the ground on a falling branch?

  • I have seen this on my place since we planted over 250,000 of these worthless trees in the late 60’s- early 80’s.
    The cones of these Pines are incredibly hard. The cones usually only open up for easy access to the seeds after a fire, unless the tree is unhealthy, then they will open up while still on the tree.
    At this time, you will see huge clouds of pine pollen wafting across the valley, the pollen makes a mess of everything.
    Another use of the Gray Squirrels teeth is for the older male squirrels to castrate their younger rivals. I have observed many times older males holding young males whiles the younger males scream in pain.
    This mainly happens late in the Fall.

    • I’ve seen Redwood trees spread their pollen in the same fashion. It’s always on a calm day and you’ll hear “crack” noise first and clouds of pollen drift over the forest. Amazing to see.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      Never saw that when I lived in a SoHum oak forest for several years. Castrating squirrels? If you say so. I guess. So, you got snookered into planting a quarter million Monterrey pines, I’m guessing? Instead of native oaks or Douglas-trees? That’s a disaster. I assume the pine needles acidified your soil to a massive degree killing off browse plants. Managing for deer was obviously not a goal. Or turkeys.

  • Thank you KYM. Please have more articles like this, lt was quite nice instead of all the negative stuff. Good job !!!!! and thanks you again.

  • Gray squirrels can be extremely destructive. They like to eat the cambium layer under the bark so they strip off the outer bark on different types of trees. I had a big leaf maple next to the house where I lived in Salmon Creek. They would girdle large limbs by stripping off long sections of bark and gnaw the cambium layer (contains the vascular tissue}. There would be piles of bark strips covering the ground underneath the tree. The limbs would then die and later break off during storms or after years of being dead. The squirrels ruined a stand of pine trees which was planted during the late seventies this way. The land owners had planted them to reforest a clearcut hillside, hoping to have a timber harvest in the future. The top of almost every tree was girdled this way. Even if not completely girdled, the trunk was very weakened and the top would blow out during storms. The broken tree would re-sprout and look like dead belly-up octopuses. They also love the big leaf maple seeds or samaras (winged seeds) and would
    eat the part they liked and drop the part they didn’t consume on the metal roof. It sounded like it was constantly raining pebbles on the roof. It could be very annoying at times but then I realized that considering all the possible annoyances one could have in this world, I came to enjoy that sound.

    George Monroe

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