Love Vanilla? That's the Smell of Beaver Butt
An anal secretion is used to flavor foods, perfumes
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2013 4:15 PM CDT
Updated Oct 6, 2013 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Like vanilla ice cream? Don't read this—because the smell of a beaver's butt is key to at least some vanilla flavoring, Time reports. More specifically, beavers like to mark their territory with a musky, vanilla compound located in sacs between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Manufacturers have been extracting it for 80 years to flavor foods and perfumes—but it's tricky, because the compound often mixes with urine and anal gland secretions.

"You can milk the anal glands so you can extract the fluid," wildlife ecologist Joanne Crawford tells National Geographic. "You can squirt it out. It’s pretty gross." But she admits to sticking her nose in there and taking a whiff: "People think I’m nuts. I tell them, 'Oh, but it’s beavers; it smells really good.'" For the record, the slimey brown compound is extracted by anesthetizing a beaver and "milking" its nether regions. Ice cream sundae, anyone?

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Showing 3 of 50 comments
Oct 7, 2013 3:51 PM CDT
And here I always thought beaver smelled like fish!
Oct 7, 2013 7:26 AM CDT
who doesn't like sniffing a beaver on occasion, if you know what I mean ..
Oct 7, 2013 1:14 AM CDT
From Wikipedia: Artificial vanilla Most artificial vanilla products contain vanillin, which can be produced synthetically from lignin, a natural polymer found in wood. Most synthetic vanillin is a byproduct from the pulp used in papermaking, in which the lignin is broken down using sulfites or sulfates. However, vanillin is only one of 171 identified aromatic components of real vanilla fruits.[32] The orchid species Leptotes bicolor is used as a natural vanilla replacement in Paraguay and southern Brazil. Nonplant vanilla flavoring In the United States, castoreum, the exudate from the castor sacs of mature beavers, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive,[33] often referenced simply as a "natural flavoring" in the product's list of ingredients. It is commonly used in both food and beverages, especially as vanilla and raspberry flavoring.[34] It is also used to flavor some cigarettes and in perfume-making.