Living With Beavers

courtesy of Wildlife 2000

Know your Castor Canadensis

  • Beavers are the largest rodents in North America.
  • Their average weight: 50 to 55 lbs. Some can weigh as much as 80lbs. or more.
  • They can live 10 to 20 years.
  • Beavers have large webbed hind feet for swimming.
  • Their front paws/hands are nearly as useful as ours.
  • Beavers use their flat, scaly paterned tails for balance when sitting up and chewing on trees, for a rudder when in the water, and for slapping the water when they feel threatened.
  • Beavers dive in water for protection and can hold their breath for at least 15 minutes.
  • Beavers are generally slow and clumsy on land, but they glide with the ease of a torpedo in the water.

Beavers are vegetarians. They eat the tree bark, aquatic and terrestial herbaceous plants. Beavers take down trees and use the branches, plus mud and stones to make dams. They also use the branches to make their homes, called lodges, using their hands to pack the mud around the outside of the lodge for insulation. Beaver dig canals so they can reach food away from their pond, using the water for protection from predators. The canal also allows them to float heavy limbs back to their pond instead of dragging them over land. In the fall, beaver store limbs and branches under the water for use as food for the winter. This is called a food "cache".

Beaver display many positive traits, such as living as a family, using complex communication systems, building homes, storing food, and creating transportation networks with ponds and canals. We can learn a great deal from their values. It's believed they mate for life and are monogamous. Beaver are good parents with both mother and father taking an active roll in raising kits which in Colorado are born in May. Beaver normally have two to four kits at a time, sometimes more, if food is abundant. The youngsters stay with their parents for two years. Beaver are hard workers, have a strong sense of purpose, are persevering, and skilled craftsman.

Advantages of Having Beavers

  • Beaver improve water quantity and quality. Their dams hold back water and by slowing down water velocity, they filter out toxins and solid materials.
  • Beaver restore riparian habitat and stop soil erosion caused by overgrazing, poor water management. Also, by trapping (traditional) removal of beaver.
  • Beaver stimulate the growth of some trees. By pruning the trees it causes the root system to send up lots of new shoots in the spring.
  • Beaver are "keepers of the streams". They build dams and wetlands that help conserve water and prevent floods and drought. They also keep waterways open by creating and deeping their underwater channels.
  • Beavers prevent forest fires by converting streams to larger bodies of water which serve as both a fire line and water supply to fire fighters.

Beaver are a "Keystone" species.

Deterring Beaver From Chewing Your Trees

The easiest way to beaver proof your trees is to simply wrap a heavy gauge wire around the base of your trees, as shown in the picture. In addition, you can always plant vines, tall flowers, or shrubbery around your trees to camouflauge the wire.

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