American Beaver
Castor canadensis

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Rodentia
FAMILY: Castoridae

SIZE:
35 to 45 inches, the tail 11 to 15 inches; weight 35 pounds or more

RANGE:
Northern Canada and Alaska south over the U.S. into northern Mexico

HABITAT:
Wooded waterways

DIET:
Wild - Leaves and inner bark of trees, underwater plants
Zoo - Rodent chow, vegetables, fruit

DESCRIPTION:
One of the largest rodents, with a heavy-set body, short legs, and a broad, flat tail. Dense grayish undercoat covered by long, heavy brown guard hairs on back and sides. Feet and tail black or brownish black. Five toes on all feet, the hind feet strongly webbed. Most of the tail is covered with scales formed from modified hairs.

FACTS:

  • Build dams from pieces of gnawed trees, trapping beavers ponds behind the dams and often flooding adjacent areas
  • Live in dens made from mounds of gnawed trees in their ponds, the dens with underwater chambers
  • Gridle trees by stripping bark completely around the tree
  • Slapping the tail on the water serves to warn the colony of danger

YOUNG:
Give birth to one to eight young; kits born with hair and open eyes; mate for life

STATUS:
Not endangered today, considered pests because of destruction of trees, farmland, and highways; a bounty has been placed on them in some parts of Louisiana

REFERENCE:
Lowery, G.H., Jr. 1974. The Mammals of Louisiana and Its Adjacent Waters