Lakeside Nature Center
Critter Corner -Beaver
DID YOU KNOW:
The Beaver is the largest rodent in North America and can grow to a length of four and a half feet. The eyes of a beaver are protected by a special covering, called a nictitating membrane, that allows the beaver to see extremely well in the water (like a built-in scuba mask). Beavers can also close their noses and ears when they are busy working underwater.
Beaver food is mainly bark and cambium (the soft growing tissue under the bark of plants); they prefer willow shoots, but they enjoy maple, aspen, poplar, beech and alder. They also munch on water plants, buds and roots.
Beaver moms have litters of 3 to 4 young in April, May or June. At birth, baby beavers are covered with fur, their eyes are open and their teeth are visible. They can already swim at this time but will not leave the safety of the den for a month. Beaver parents care for and protect their young for about two years and then the young adult beavers leave on their own to start their own families.
Beavers build elaborate homes called lodges. that look like islands in the middle of a body of water. It’s made of sticks, grass and moss. The beavers constantly repair the dome, adding material and plastering the whole lodge with mud. Entrances are underwater; the beaver has to dive under water to get into his house.
When alarmed a beaver will give a loud slap repeatedly on the water with its broad tail. If cornered a beaver may use its enormous incisors to deliver a powerful bite but its first instinct is to escape from any threat by a water route.
To learn more about beavers
(Photo of beaver eating yams by Deb Hilburn; diagram of beaver lodge from Saskatchewan Schools Information Project; all other photos from US Fish and Wildlife Agency)