Beavers and Raccoons are often used in money play (but never in match play) which says: A player who accepts a double may immediately redouble (beaver) without giving up possession of the cube. The opponent (the player who originally doubled) may refuse the beaver, in which case he resigns the game and loses the current (doubled) stakes. Otherwise, he must accept the beaver and continue the game at quadruple the stakes prior to the double.
In money play, if player A doubles, and player B believes that he is a favourite holding the cube, he may turn the cube an extra notch as he takes, and keep the cube on his own side. For example, if A makes an initial double to 2, B may, instead of taking the double and holding a 2 cube, say ‘beaver’, turn the cube an extra notch to 4, and continue the game holding a 4 cube.
If A believes that B’s beaver was in error, some play that he may then ‘raccoon’, turning the cube yet another notch (to 8 in the example). Cube ownership remains with B. B may then if he wishes turn the cube yet another notch, saying ‘aardvark’, or ‘otter’ or whatever silly animal name he prefers (the correct animal is a matter of controversy), and so forth.
Beavers and the rest of the animals may be played or not in money play, as the players wish.
Beavers and other animals are never used in match play.
The mandatory beaver rule comes into play if the box doubles during the game, and the entire field rejects the double except for one player. In this scenario the mandatory beaver rule stipulates that the accepting players must then choose to either beaver or reject as well. The idea behind the rule is that the game is kept to a decent pace. It is not prohibited or slowed by a player that is playing differently to the rest of his team.
The mandatory beaver rule often comes up against opposition as it is considered by many Chouette players to be an unfair rule which forces an unnatural decision upon a player. It has also been suggested that this mandatory beaver Chouette move can aid collusion, although there has been no evidence to prove this. Other Chouette players counteract this argument by stating that the pace and enjoyment of the game are maintained.
As with any rule variation, the mandatory beaver rule is an optional extra, and so always check the rules of the backgammon Chouette game before joining in to make sure you get the most enjoyment possible.