Wild Thing Wednesday works engineering wonders with the American Beaver.  The largest rodent in North America, beavers are uncommon residents of Horicon Marsh, mainly frequenting the wooded areas of the main ditch and island shorelines.  Often confused with the smaller and more common muskrat, beavers are given away by their tails, which are large and shaped like a canoe paddle.  If startled, beavers can slap their tails against the surface of the water as an alarm to other beavers as they submerge to escape.  Beavers can spend up to 15 minutes at a time under water, giving them plenty of time to reach an underwater lodge entrance.  Beaver pelts are rich in water repelling oils and were once a prized commodity in the fur trading industry.  Many of the first European visitors to Wisconsin came looking to obtain beaver pelts either through trapping or trading with Native Americans.  Several of Wisconsin’s modern-day cities are built on old the sites of trading posts established during the height of the fur trade, making the beaver an important part of Wisconsin’s history.  Thanks to well managed conservation practices, beavers will certainly be a part of our present and future as well.