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General Beaver Information

Beavers are the largest rodents in North America and weigh 50 to 60 pounds. They are semi-aquatic wildlife that spend most of their time in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Beavers are equipped with unique features that allow for easy navigation in water. Webbed feet assist in swimming; heavy dense fur acts as insulation in cold water; ear and nose openings are designed to totally close when submerged; and a big, broad, flat tail functions in swimming and communicating.

Beavers are nocturnal social animals that live in family units and mate for life. Females give birth in the spring, usually to 2-4 kits. Both male and female parents, as well as year-old siblings, care for the kits. At the age of two, offspring leave the family unit in search of their own breeding ground. The lifespan of a wild beaver is approximately 10-12 years.

Beavers create dams to raise water levels so they can build their dens, or lodges, in the water. By effectively creating an island home with an underwater entrance, they are protected from many predators and humans. The entrances lead to dry chambers where beavers sleep, give birth, and store food for future consumption. Beavers may also create burrows in riverbanks.

Beavers eat the leaves, roots, cambium, and bark of trees such as aspen, willow, and cottonwood or whatever trees are present. They also eat clover, apples, corn, grasses, water lilies, and other aquatic vegetation that is readily available. A beaver’s teeth will grow throughout its lifetime; gnawing on trees and roots keeps them from overgrowing.

Beavers have many natural predators, including: wolves, coyotes, bears, mink, lynx, bobcats, cougars, raptors and humans. Humans are one of the biggest threats to beavers.

 

Facts About Beavers

  • Both male and female beavers look very similar.
  • Their 3-4 feet long body is covered with dark brown & thick fur.
  • An average beaver weighs 35 to 60 pounds.
  • Female beaver are heavier than males.
  • Beavers have long flat tails.
  • Their tail is used for swimming and communication.
  • By slapping the water surface with their tail, beaver alert other members of the group about potential dangers.
  • Beavers are semi-aquatic wildlife, which means that they spend part of their life in the water.
  • Waterproof fur prevents beaver from freezing in the water.
  • Beavers webbed feet serve as fins and its flat tail as a paddle, which all together provides efficient moving through the water.
  • Beavers can swim 5 miles per hour and spend 15 minutes under water without returning back to the surface to breath.
  • Beavers have transparent eye lids which function as goggles and helps them see under the water.
  • Beavers are nocturnal animals.
  • Beavers hunt and work during the night.
  • Beavers are herbivores.
  • Beavers like to eat tree bark of different plant species
  • Beavers also eat plants like water lily, pond weed and different types of leaves.
  • Beavers live in a large group called a colony.
  • Beavers mate for a lifetime.
  • Beaver homes are called lodges or dens and they are made from mud and branches.
  • They use dams to protect themselves from predators.
  • Beavers are territorial.
  • Beavers use musk oil to cover the branches and mud in the dams & den to mark their territory.
  • Beavers have very poor eyesight, but excellent sense of smell and hearing.
  • Beavers mate January-March.
  • Females give birth to 2-4 babies, called kits.
  • They spend their first month of life in the den.
  • Young beaver stay with the family for 2 years and help them maintain the dam and den.
  • Beavers can live 20-30 years in captivity.

Some Diseases directly transmitted by Beaver

  • Rabies
  • Giardia lamblia
  • Leptospirosis
  • Cryptosporridium
  • Tularaemia
  • Pseudotuberculosis
  • Bovine Tuberculosis
  • Gyrodactylus salaries
  • Echinococcus multilocularis

Damage

Beaver's habitat modification is caused primarily by dam building, is often beneficial to fish, furbearers, reptiles, amphibians and waterfowl. When this modification comes in conflict with property owners objectives, the impact of damage may far outweigh the benefits.

Most of the damage caused by beavers is a result of dam building, bank burrowing, tree and vegetation cutting, or flooding. Some southern states where beaver damage is extensive have estimated the cost at 4 million to 5 million dollars annually for tree loss; crop losses; roads, dwellings, and flooded property; and other damage. Some cases include state highways flooded because of beaver ponds, reservoir dams destroyed by bank den burrows collapsing, and train derailments caused by continued flooding and burrowing under ground. Road ditches, drain pipes, ponds, rivers, creeks and culverts have been stopped up so badly that they had to be dynamited out and replaced. Some bridges have been destroyed because of beaver dams and den tunneling activity. Also, beavers threaten human health by contaminating the water supply with Giardia.

Identifying beaver damage generally is not difficult for a trained professional. Signs include dams; dammed-up culverts, bridges, or drain pipes resulting in flooded lands, roads, and crops; cut-down or girdled trees and crops; dens and burrows in ponds, reservoir levees, and dams.

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Beaver