North American Beaver

The beaver is the largest North American rodent.  Most adults weigh from 35 to 50 pounds, with some occasionally reaching 70 to 85 pounds. Individuals have been known to reach over 100 pounds. The beaver is a stocky rodent adapted for aquatic environments.  Many of the beaver’s features enable it to remain submerged for long periods of time. It has a valvular nose and ears, and lips that close behind the four large incisor teeth. Each of the four feet have five digits, with the hind feet webbed between toes and a split second claw on each hind foot.   The prominent tail is flattened dorsoventrally, scaled, and almost hairless. It is used as a prop while the beaver is sitting upright and for a rudder when swimming. Beavers also use their tail to warn others of danger by abruptly slapping the surface of the water. The beaver’s large front (incisor) teeth, bright orange on the front, grow continuously throughout its life. These incisors are beveled so that they are continuously sharpened as the beaver gnaws and chews while feeding, girdling, and cutting trees.

Beavers prefer certain trees and woody species, such as aspen, cottonwood, willow, sweetgum, blackgum, black cherry, tulip poplar, and pine, depending on availability. However, they can and will eat the leaves, twigs, and bark of most species of woody plants that grow near the water, as well as a wide variety of herbaceous and aquatic plants. Beavers often travel 100 yards (90 m) or more from a pond or stream to get to corn fields, soybean fields, and other growing crops, where they cut the plants off at ground level and drag them back to the water. They eat parts of these plants and often use the remainder as construction material in the dam.

Beaver are nature’s architects, surpassed only by humans! Their razor sharp incisors are perfect for gnawing trees in half! A beaver’s teeth never stop growing, so if it stops gnawing his teeth will eventually grow into his skull and kill him. Unfortunately the beaver’s passion for chewing and dam-making are the reason he’s such a nuisance! Beaver dams can cause roads to flood or even collapse!!! Beavers have been known to chew phone lines and drown timberlands!! Beavers can spread Giardia also known as “beaver fever”.