The American beaver (Castor canadensis) is the largest rodent native to North America. It has a unique skill set that includes falling trees, building dams, and creating complex lodges that serve as a habitat. These lodges are often seen near rivers, lakes, or streams, where beavers are most comfortable. Beavers have a vital role in their ecosystems as their dam-building activity creates wetlands that benefit various species.


The beaver has a well-adapted body for its lifestyle, with webbed feet for swimming and powerful incisors for gnawing wood. Its fur is a rich brown, dense, and waterproof, aiding in buoyancy and insulation. The beaver’s broad, flat tail is a defining feature and serves multiple functions, including balance, swimming, and communication.


Beavers are primarily nocturnal creatures, emerging from their lodges at dusk to forage and maintain their dams. They are social animals, often living in family groups that consist of a monogamous pair and their offspring. Their diets mainly consist of bark, twigs, leaves, and aquatic plants.


Physical Description:

The American Beaver has a heavyset body covered in thick fur that varies in shades of brown. The fur is an insulating layer, allowing the beaver to thrive in various climatic conditions. Its most distinctive physical feature is its flat, scaly tail, which it uses for various purposes, including balance, communication, and temperature regulation.

Their large incisors are bright orange, a characteristic feature that enables them to easily cut through wood. These teeth are ever-growing, necessitating the constant gnawing behavior observed in beavers. Their eyes are small, and they have a keen sense of smell and hearing, which aids them in detecting predators and food.

Lifespan: Wild: ~10 Years || Captivity: ~20 Years

Weight: Male: 44–60 lbs (20–27 kg) || Female: 40–55 lbs (18–25 kg)

Length: Male: 29–35 inches (73.7–89 cm) || Female: 28–33 inches (71.1–83.8 cm)

Height: Male: 12–15 inches (30.5–38 cm) || Female: 11–14 inches (28–35.6 cm)

Top Speed: 6 mph (9.7 km/h)

Native Habitat:

Beavers are highly adaptable in various aquatic habitats, including rivers, lakes, and ponds. They prefer areas with abundant trees that they can use for food and building materials. The presence of a water source is essential for their survival, as it provides the necessary conditions for them to build their dams and lodges.

These animals are widely distributed across North America, ranging from the Arctic tundra to desert riverbanks. Beavers are highly territorial and mark their area with scent mounds, which warn other beavers to keep their distance.

Climate Zones:
Biogeographical Realms:

Diet & Feeding Habits:

The American Beaver is an herbivore, feeding mainly on the aspen, cottonwood, willow, and maple tree bark. They also consume aquatic plants, roots, and tubers. Their strong incisors enable them to strip the bark off branches, which they store underwater near their lodges for winter consumption.

Beavers have a complex digestive system that includes a specialized “hindgut” where microbial fermentation of certain foods occurs. This enables them to extract maximum nutritional value from plant material, including cellulose, making them highly efficient feeders.

Mating Behavior:

Mating Description:

The American Beaver typically practices monogamy, often forming long-term mating pairs. The mating season occurs in late winter, usually between January and March. Both the male and female are involved in raising their offspring, who are born fully furred and with their eyes open.

Usually, 3 to 4 kits are born after a gestation period of around 105 days. The young are weaned at approximately two weeks but will stay with their parents for up to two years. Subsequent litters often cohabitate with previous ones until they are old enough to establish their territories.

Reproduction Season:

Birth Type:

Pregnancy Duration:

~105 Days

Female Name:


Male Name:


Baby Name:


Social Structure Description:

American beavers are social animals that live in family groups. These family units consist of a monogamous pair and their offspring from several years. All members participate in constructing and maintaining dams and lodges, with older offspring helping to take care of younger siblings.

Communication within the group is essential for survival and is facilitated through vocalizations, body language, and the release of scent markers. The family structure is hierarchical, with the dominant pair occupying the top rank and leading the group in all major activities.


Conservation Status:
Population Trend:


Wild: Unknown || Captivity: Unknown


The American Beaver population is generally considered stable or increasing in many parts of its range. Conservation efforts and natural range expansion have contributed to the animal’s current status as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Despite the overall positive outlook, local populations can face threats from habitat loss, trapping, and water pollution. Overharvesting for their pelts, a significant concern in the past has been largely mitigated through regulation and conservation efforts.

Population Threats:

Beavers face several threats, mainly due to human activities. Habitat destruction and the fragmentation of natural landscapes put pressure on local populations. In some regions, they are still trapped for their fur, although this practice has reduced significantly in recent decades due to conservation laws.

Water pollution is another significant threat to the American Beaver. Chemical pollutants, agricultural runoff, and industrial waste can contaminate the water sources they depend on, impacting the beavers and the broader ecosystem they help maintain.

Conservation Efforts:

Conservation efforts for the American Beaver include habitat protection, regulated trapping, and reintroduction programs in areas where the species had been extirpated. Laws and regulations are in place to manage the harvest of beavers for their fur, ensuring that trapping is sustainable and does not pose a significant risk to populations.

Additionally, various organizations and government bodies monitor beaver populations and their habitats. Public education efforts are ongoing to raise awareness about the ecological benefits of beavers, promoting coexistence between humans and this vital species.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts

  • Beavers can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes.
  • A beaver’s teeth never stop growing.
  • They can swim at speeds of up to 6 mph.
  • Beavers use their tails to slap the water as a warning signal.
  • They are known for their “engineering” skills, especially in dam building.
  • A single beaver can cut down as many as 200 trees a year.
  • Beavers have a “third eyelid” that allows them to see underwater.
  • They have been introduced in some areas for stream restoration.
  • The world’s largest beaver dam in Alberta, Canada, is visible from space.
  • Beavers have a special digestive system that allows them to break down the cellulose in wood.