When you come across wilderness people in the woods are you supposed to look big and intimidating while slowly backing away, or are you suppose to get into a ball and play dead while protecting you next? I think with beavers you climb a tree. I can't keep all these wilderness guidelines straight though.
Step 1, I believe, is to attempt a rough classification, beginning with: pygmies, or not pygmies? They weren't; in comparison I was the pygmy. Step 2: do they deserve to be treated with respect or not?
Of course the answer to 2) above is nearly always "yes". In this case, however, it was an emphatic "yes"--they had sticks, and I had none.
Climbing a tree when facing a beaver sounds like the worst possible idea. Maybe you meant a badger?
I don't know if I've heard a beaver laughing, but I imagine a potential victim climbing a tree to get away would get one chuckling. One of the nice things about being a long time SF reader is that I immediately identified the two previous posters on this point without looking first at their AP handles.
I believe that with badgers you are supposed to get as low to the ground as possible and make Groucho eyeballs at'em.