The North American Beaver. Mainly active during the night, these magnificently large, semiaquatic creatures are the largest living rodents in North America; second only to it’s European counterpart, the European Beaver.
North American beavers weigh, on average, about 44 pounds, but much older individuals have been known to grow to be up to 88 or even 110 pounds! These guys are born equipped with large, webbed hind feet and a massive, flat, paddle-shaped tail that serves as a rudder and makes swimming easy. Their tail is also used to signal danger with a hefty “slap” to the surface of water or as a prop when they are sitting or standing upright. As far as using their tails to slap mud onto their dens, however, that’s an old wives’ “tail”!
As for their food source, they are strictly vegetarians. Contrary to popular belief, they do not eat fish! They feed primarily on inner bark, twigs, sprouts, and leaves of deciduous trees, water lilies, aquatic plants, grasses, and even crops of corn and beans have been known to bring in beavers for a feast! Beavers also store food under water in a “cache” during the winter months when food is harder to come by. This involves taking fresh food items and anchoring them underneath the water in the mud so they may come back and utilize them when the water is frozen over. Beaver may also venture out under the ice and feast on thick roots of aquatic plants like cattails and water lilies.
Beavers are most famous for their unique set of architectural skills; constructing dams and lodges that is! Their very large, sharp incisor teeth are perfect for cutting down and carrying trees and limbs to help out with the construction process. Their teeth never stop growing throughout their life, much like most other rodents, and they constantly need to be chewing or gnawing on things to wear them down. If their teeth were to get too long, it would inhibit them from eating all together, resulting in an unfortunate demise.
They construct their lodges with rocks and mud, in addition to the branches and twigs of the trees they cut down. Rarely do they go more than about 165 feet from the water’s edge to collect building materials, but in areas with few dangers where the vegetation is sparse they have been known to travel twice that distance. Tree branches that are too large for them to carry are often times just stripped of the bark and left there. Typically, the reason beavers build dams in the first place is to provide themselves with an area of deep water as a source or protection and to make sure that during winter freezes, the water is deep enough to not freeze solid. More often than not, their lodges are built in the water and have entrances that are only accessible from under water. There are usually more then one entrance, an area for drying, and a hole up top for fresh air ventilation.
Beavers are mostly monogamous; they only have one mate for a long period of time. Most individuals do not reproduce until around three years of age, though some females (around 20%) have been known to have their first litter at 2 years. Females have one litter per year and are pregnant for around 128 days. On average they will have from 2-3 kits, but can have up to 6! The kits will stay around the parents for up to 2 years before they venture out on their own and find a mate of their own to start the whole process over again.
Beavers can cause quite a bit of damage if left to their own devices. They can disrupt full systems of water flow in a short period of time. Here at critter control, we live-trap beavers, using traps like the one below. This is a safe and effective way to capture and remove problem beavers from your property. If you feel you are having a problem with beavers, let us know! We would love to help you out! 1 (800) CRITTER