Exmoor’s first baby beaver for centuries has been captured on camera.
The young beaver – known as a kit – was born about six weeks ago and was caught on film swimming with its mother back to the family lodge while she stopped to chew on a branch.
Two adult beavers were introduced to an enclosure in Holnicote Estate in Somerset in January last year, the first introduced on National Trust land in 125 years.
The footage proves they have successfully bred, although Jack Siviter, one of the rangers on the Holnicote estate, said there had been clues.
He said: “We first had an inkling that our pair of beavers had mated successfully when the male started being a lot more active building and dragging wood and vegetation around the site in late spring.
“The female also changed her usual habits, and stayed out of sight, leaving the male to work alone.
“It was then several weeks until we spotted her again, and this is when our suspicions were confirmed that she had given birth, due to having very visible teats.”
The female adult beaver, named Grylls for showing survival instincts that reminded rangers of adventurer Bear Grylls, was orphaned at an early age, Mr Siviter said.
“As a first-time mum she seems to be thriving and it’s great to see her with her new kit.”
The family is expected to stay together for two years before the kit leaves to find its own territory. It will then be moved to another enclosure or wild release site if regulations allow.
Beavers are being introduced across England to encourage nature and reduce flooding.
They restore wetlands by dam-building and felling trees, slowing, storing and filtering water, attracting other wildlife and reducing flooding downstream.
They are also found wild on rivers in England and Scotland, having made a comeback after being hunted to extinction in the 16th century for their fur, glands and meat.
In 18 months, the beavers on Exmoor have transformed their habitat, building dams from trees, mud, stones, and vegetation, creating ponds and new channels, and felling some trees.
The result is a more diverse habitat, with wildlife including bats, dragonflies, kingfishers, sparrowhawks and otters.
Ben Eardley, project manager for the National Trust at Holnicote, said: “The beavers are doing a lot of what we want to see in terms of conservation and land management.
“They are letting the light and the water into the site, helping natural processes and providing opportunities for a host of other wildlife.”