The Facts

  • Genus: Castor
  • Conservation Status: Range from least concern to critically endangered (Marstonia castor)
  • Location: North America, Europe and Asia


The Scoop

Excellent Engineers

Beavers are among the largest of rodents. They are found in forests, near streams and rivers.  A beaver moves awkwardly on land but gracefully in water. Its feet are webbed for better swimming. Its ears and nose snap shut when the animal dives underwater, and its eyes have a third transparent eyelid that helps the beaver to see below the surface of the water. The beaver has a wide, flat tail, used for slapping the surface of the water to warn other beavers of approaching danger. Beavers are busy little animals who are excellent engineers. They are known for their skill in building dams and canals in streams and rivers to set up their homes.  Their dome shaped homes are called lodges, and they are built with trees and branches that the beaver cuts down with its sharp teeth.

When compared to its cousin, the rat, a beaver is big. It is as big as an average three year old kid-around 3 feet long- but weighs as much as an average 9 year old- about 60 lbs!  A beaver’s favorite foods include water lily tubers, apples, the leaves and green bark from aspen and other fast-growing trees. After eating, beavers use the peeled sticks to build a teepee-like lodge or a dam. Beavers have many natural predators; including wolves, coyotes, bears, and humans. Humans are, in fact, one of the biggest threats to beavers. Trapping, water pollution, and habitat loss through drainage of wetlands, have a caused the population of beavers to decline also.  If you want to help beavers, you can adopt one through the WWF.


Did You Know? 

  • Beavers can remain underwater for 15 minutes without surfacing.
  • A beaver’s building skills can completely change a landscape- its ability to do this is second only to humans.
  • A baby beaver is called a kitten or kit.
  • Beavers use their tails as a paddle when swimming, and as a warning device.


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