The animal on the cover of Essential Microsoft Operations Manager is a beaver. The beaver (Castor canadensis) is found all over North America, except in northernmost Canada and the warmer southern parts of the United States. The largest rodent in North America, it is characterized by dark brown fur, long incisors, and small ears and eyes. It can measure four feet in length and weigh between 40 to 100 pounds in adulthood. Its most noticeable feature is its long, flat tail, which it uses both as a rudder for swimming and as a balancing aid when standing on its hind legs.
Beavers are industrious builders and spend a great deal of time constructing dams and lodges. Their dams are dome-shaped and measure as high as 10 feet. Their purpose is to raise the surrounding water level two to three feet so the beavers can build a lodge. Lodges typically have two underwater entrances, and the water must be deep enough so that the entrances will not be blocked by ice.
Beaver pelts were once highly prized by North American settlers, and it was the beaver trade that drove the exploration of the continent. Pelts were traded as currency and were considered fashionable for top hats and as the trim for royal robes. The beaver pelt trade nearly drove the animals to extinction in the 1800s, and it is estimated that the North American beaver population today is only 5 percent of the size of the original population.
Humans see beavers as both a blessing and a curse. The dams that beavers create can ...