The North American Beaver

July 14, 2012

in Wildlife and Habitat

The Beaver is considered to be the largest rodent inhabitant within North America. Like many other rodents, the beaver is a mammal and it bears the scientific name -  castor Canadensis.

Beavers are the most fascinating of animals because they can create their own environment and are rated only second to humans in this regards.  These intriguing animals even have the ability to self-regulate their rate of reproduction depending on occupancy numbers within their given region.

Obviously the beavers natural habitat are the wetlands.  They are strictly herbivores and eat a lot of vegetation including a variety of aquatic plants and the leaves and small twigs of many different varieties of leaves.  Beavers cannot readily digest wood and therefore it doesn’t figure in their diet at all.

The North American Beaver

The North American Beaver

Because beavers build dams from gnawed off wood trees – these animals are actually an environmental blessing.  Because of their innate ability to build dams spanning the streams of shallow valleys they in turn create rich habitats for fish, turtles, birds, ducks , frogs  and other mammals. Through their dam building,  beavers maintain wetlands that can absorb floodwaters, prevent erosion and actually raise the water table.  Old upstream beaver dams act as a silt depository that in turn filters the water passing through it by breaking down toxins and pesticides rendering the water downstream from these dams much cleaner.

Beavers traditionally build lodges made of peeled sticks that have underwater access for the cold winter months and they ensure they have an adequate food cache of branches to see them through. Some beavers prefer to build their “lodge” within river banks. A traditional beaver colony consists of six or more beavers and includes parents, yearlings and kits that co-exist happily and peacefully within a lodge with underwater access.

As amazing as these animals are at contributing to the fragile eco-systems within the wetlands, sometimes, their building habits can cause undesirable flooding.  But, people are well aware that these animals are necessary to keep the wetlands intact, so if ever there is a problem with a particular group of beavers – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service work alongside the beavers in relocating them where their unique presence will be more beneficial and appreciated.


This is animal and habitat conservation working how it should – for the betterment of the planet and, it is re-assuring to know that,  the authorities realize how important the beaver is to producing a sound eco-system in their own right within the wetlands, which in turn benefits its human counterparts on a grander scale – proving that humans can co-exist with native wildlife.

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