The beaver Castor canadensis is the largest rodent in North America and the largest rodent in the world except for the capybara of South America. An adult weighs from 16 to 32 kg and, including its 30-cm tail, a large beaver may measure 1.3 m long. Its ancestors were even larger. In the Pleistocene ice age—the era of the mastodons and the mammoths—the giant beavers that inhabited the expanses of Eurasia and North America measured just under 3 m in length, including the tail, and probably weighed 360 kg.
(Please note — these photos are unverified images submitted by members of the CWF Photo Club.)
Habitat: Most common in forested areas, beavers also expand into unforested habitats, where there are water-courses bordered by deciduous trees or shrubs.
Each day, beavers alternate periods of activity and rest. They are most active from dusk to dawn. Midday generally finds them in the lodge, be it summer or winter.
The beaver’s life is inextricably connected to logging—or sustenance and for habitation. This animal cuts down an average of 216 trees a year. It can fell trees up to about 40 cm in diameter. Usually a single beaver cuts a tree, but sometimes two work on a large one.
Diet: All winter the beavers bring sticks from their underwater cache into the feeding chamber of the lodge to gnaw the succulent bark. They prefer trembling aspen, poplar, willow, and birch; half a hectare of aspen will support one beaver for a year. They also swim out under the ice and retrieve the thick roots and stems of aquatic plants, such as pond lilies and cattails. During mild winters and warm days in March and early April, adult beavers emerge from their dull aquatic world to feed on fresh woody stems along the shore. On such forays they often fall prey to hungry wolves.
Beavers shift from a woody diet to a herbaceous diet as new growth appears in the spring. During summer, beavers will eat grasses, herbs, leaves of woody plants, fruits, and aquatic plants.
Beavers mate in the winter months, January and February. The kits are born in April through June. When they are two years old in the summer, they build their own dams and find a mate in their second winter. Many years ago people trapped beavers for their valuable fur.More on this Species:
Hinterland Who's Who
This content is from Hinterland Who's Who, a joint program between the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Environment and Climate Change Canada. For more species fact sheets, videos and sound clips, please visit hww.ca