Beavers

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Beavers are known to be the largest rodents found in North America and Canada. This species (scientific name Castor canadensisis) is well distributed across the United States and Canada. Yet, you will not see the American Beaver in either Florida, or Mexico. This type of climate does not suit the famous rodent. Its outstanding qualities and abilities have provided for much popularity. The Beaver is one of the most reputable animals and is definitely a much-admired rodent in both the United States and Canada. It is the National symbol of Canada and two US states, namely Oregon and New York have adopted it as the state symbol.
 Beavers - Pictures
Photo courtesy of
Beaver Wetlands and Wildlife © 2002
Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife

Beavers - Description

The Beaver reaches the weight of about 60-70 pounds. In fact, its size varies from one area to another and depends greatly on the amount of available food. In times when food is most abundant, Beavers can grow to be about 80 pounds. However, their average weight is about 35 pounds, like that of a medium-sized dog. As for the difference between sexes, male Beavers are not much larger than females. In fact, individual females are known to be larger than males.

The total length of an adult Beaver is about 41-46 inches. A long saddle-like tail provides much of the length. The tail can grow to be about 10-16 inches with thickness about one-half in the middle. The Beaver's powerful tail that is 5-6 inches wide serves as a rudder when swimming and it has a number of other uses. As a matter of fact, the tail is a very important device that helps the Beaver not only underwater but also on land. The species is known to use the tail when standing on its hind legs. The tail, in this case, can be compared to a prop that safely keeps its owner in a vertical position. Iterant sounds that are often heard in a Beaver home range are also due to Beaver's tail appliance. The animal slaps the water in the case of danger. It is believed that this sort of slapping may be a warning signal meant to other Beavers who usually establish their homes up or down the same stream.

Beavers are mainly aquatic animals that spend most of time underwater. When on land, Beaver's movements are clumsy and far from elegant. Short legs and a heavy, rocket-like body are poor equipment to make a good runner or climber. Yet, water is a perfect environment for the Beaver. Indeed, the Beaver can boast to have virtually everything to permit the Beaver to feel right at home in the water. Webbed feet and a long flat tail provide for quick swimming. Transparent eyelids and valves on their small ears and nose that close once the animal goes underwater, allow it to stay underwater for a long period of time. Beavers are known to submerge for about 3-4 minutes. This time is enough for them to swim about one-half mile before having to replenish the amount of oxygen. This ability is truly wonderful, yet it is not the limit. It is estimated that the Beaver is capable of staying underwater for more than 10 minutes.

Perhaps one feature of the most prominent features of the Beaver is its sharp teeth. Four incisors, or gnawing teeth, are about one inch long and grow throughout the whole life of the animal. This quality is common in other rodents arming them with an ever-effective means of managing food and other hard materials. The Beaver's coat also deserves attention. The animal has a soft undercoat that provides for insulation during cold weather and a long guard coat. The undercoat is lighter in color ranging from reddish to brown, while the outer coat is usually of deep chestnut brown colors. Beavers use the oil from glands that are situated on the belly to grease their hairs all over the body. This simple procedure is a perfect means of protecting the coat from cold water.
 Beavers - Pictures
Photo courtesy of
British Columbia Adventure Network © 1996-2003

Beavers - Diet

Beavers feed mainly on what they can find in their habitat. This includes vegetarian food such as aspen, willow, cottonwood, leaves, apples, crops, and similar fare. Fish can also comprise Beaver's ration, yet the animal does not hunt. It eats dead fish found near-by. Careful and prudent, Beavers hide food in their underwater tunnels to make use of it in winter periods.

Beavers - Value

Beavers are considered a "cornerstone species" since they change the habitat they live in like no other animal. Thanks to the Beaver, other species such as turtles, frogs, birds, and fish can find a good home and enjoy naturally created habitat. Naturally created wetlands help to cleanse the water and serve as filters that are instrumental in getting rid of pollutants and silt. These areas are a valuable means of irrigation and water control. Beavers take a fitting niche in present day environment and do a perfect job. Besides, their fur, oil from castor glands, and other garments are quite valuable and can successfully be used in the fur and perfume industry, and any other sphere humans can find application.

However, economic and ecological values of the Beaver have been the subject of much debate of late. With growing numbers of animals in practically every state and province, damage caused by this rodent's activity seems to surpass its value. Dams result in flooding which can be negative for forests, roads, and agriculture. Beavers may damage fish and farm ponds and destroy agricultural crops when feeding. A number of other dreadful effects caused by this species' activities have aroused the need for managing Beavers and preventing them from undesirable habitat changes.




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