American Beaver

Genus: Castor
Species: canadensis

Corel Images © Copyright 2012 - American Beaver

Description: The American beaver is the largest rodent in the United States. A beaver can be 2 to 3 feet long, not including the tail. They have dark-brown waterproof fur and webbed feet.

The most noticeable characteristic of beavers is the long, flat, black tail. A beaver’s tail not only helps it swim faster, but can also be used to make a loud alarm call when slapped against water. The large tail helps the beaver balance when carrying a heavy log or tree trunk.

Beavers are semi-aquatic and travel from the water onto land to collect and eat tree bark and other wetland plants. Beavers gnaw down trees with their long teeth and they use trees and mud to build lodges (homes) and dams in lakes and ponds. Beavers are one of the few animals that can actively change an ecosystem by blocking rivers with trees, building dams and creating new lakes and floodplains.

Spotting a beaver can be difficult because they spend so much time in their lodge and underwater.  Mornings and evenings are the best times to see beavers swimming with just the top of their heads sticking above the surface of the water. If you can’t spot a beaver, look for gnawed tree stumps or the beaver’s lodge. 

Habitat and Range:  Beavers live in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams throughout the continental United States except in the desert areas of the Southwest.

  • Fun Fact
    Beaver teeth grow continuously throughout their lives and beavers must gnaw on trees to keep their teeth from getting dangerously long. Thick layers of enamel on their teeth give them an orange color.

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