Jenn Pet Vet's Blog

All Creatures Great & Small – including beavers January 29, 2012

Filed under: wildlife — Jennifer Forsyth, VMD @ 5:07 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Tree felled by a beaver in my backyard (my Bullmastiff, Petunia, in the background)


This post doesn’t have anything to do with natural pet care, but it is still some pretty cool stuff.  My neighbor had told me a story about a beaver family that built a dam in the stream that runs through my backyard a few years back, but I have never had any proof that I have beavers living in my stream until this past week.  Some busy beaver gnawed down a tree and has been systematically been chewing off the limbs.  January is peak mating season so maybe that’s why there is finally some visible beaver action.


Adult beavers are nocturnal (active mainly at night), semiaquatic, and weigh between 26-60 pounds and are therefore one of the largest rodents in the world.  Very old and fat beavers can even reach 100 pounds (45 kg).  Baby beavers (kits) are the size of walnuts when they are born, but they are born precocious – meaning they are born with their eyes open and fully furred.  A beaver family (colony) usually consists of 4-8 individuals which include the two adults (the adults pair up for life), yearlings, and kits.


Beavers are vegetarians and their diet consists of bark, leaves, twigs, and plant roots.  During the fall they create a food cache which consists of small logs and green branches that are buried in the mud of the stream right outside of their lodge.  A beaver lodge can be one of two types: a hemispherical pile of mud, logs, and sticks – or they dig a burrow in the bank of the stream.


Dam building is probably what most beavers are famous for.  The largest dam on record was found in Alberta, Canada and it was over half a mile long – twice as long as the Hoover Dam.  The purpose of the dam is to flood the areas around their lodge so that it will be deep enough that the water will not fully freeze in the winter.  The flooded area also provides more access to their food sources.


I promise to keep you posted on any addition beaver activity or sightings …

American Beaver (photo from Wikipedia)


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