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American Beaver Castor canadensis


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American Beaver
credit: Steve/CCSA

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Family: Castoridae, Beavers view all from this family

Description Unmistakable large, aquatic rodent with a sizeable, flat, paddle-shaped, scaly tail. Our largest rodent. Pelage is brown with shiny guard hairs and grayish underfur. Hind feet are webbed. Incisor teeth are large, orange, and ever-growing. Distinctive flattened tail is used as a rudder; also slapped against the top of the water as an alarm.

Dimensions 100-120cm, 23-32cm, 16-30kg

Habitat Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Swamps, marshes & bogs

Range Plains, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Florida, Texas, California, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska

Discussion Eats the leaves and inner bark of many tree species, preferring willow and aspen. Survives long, harsh winters by huddling in its insulated lodge, storing fat in its tail, and retrieving and eating underwater food caches. Lives in small family groups. The presence of a Beaver family in an area is easily detected by the saplings and small trees they cut down, strip of bark, and use to build dams and dome-shaped lodges. Typically nocturnal, most often seen around dawn or dusk. Once trapped to extinction in many areas, the Beaver has come back, and is now common in many areas, sometimes considered a pest. Lives in a variety of rivers and lakes.