Dark and light green leaves

North American Beaver – Castor Canadensis

Status: Least Concern
North American Beaver

Habitat: Beavers are found in North America in streams and lakes that have trees or shrubs on the banks. Unlike many animals, beavers will make their own habitat, using downed trees, mud and rocks to form dams, which blockade streams to form ponds. These dams can measure up to half a mile long.

Adaptations: As a semi-aquatic species, the eyes, ears and nose are located on the top of the head. This allows the animal to see, hear and breathe while the rest of its body is submerged. The eyes have a transparent (nictitating) membrane that covers the eyes while underwater. The large hind feet are webbed for swimming. The mouth has extra “lips” that close behind the incisors to allow chewing underwater. The tail is broad and flat and is used as a paddle when swimming and for balance on land. If frightened, a beaver will slap the surface of the water with its tail, sounding an alarm.

Diet: Beavers eat leaves, twigs, the inner bark of trees, ferns and skunk cabbage. In the autumn, beavers cut and gather young saplings. They stockpile them near the lodge until they sink from the weight of the pile. This stockpile will be a source of fresh food during the winter months.
Fun Fact: During the colonial era, beaver fur was one of the most valuable trade items in the Americas. One of the main driving forces behind the exploration of North America was the search for more beaver pelts, and wars were fought over access to beaver-rich lands. Heavy hunting pressure caused beavers to disappear from much of their range, though they have since become more common.