Did you know that the beaver is actually a rodent? The beaver is the largest rodent in North America. They are built for living in the water: short, with stout legs and a large, flat, nearly hairless tail that they use to maintain balance while gnawing on trees. Beavers will use their tail to warn other beavers by slapping it against the water, making a big “smack!” sound. Their front feet have heavy claws, and their hind feet are webbed, which propel them through the water when they are swimming. When the beaver is under water, its nose and ears close up and a special membrane covers its eyes. Beavers have long sharp upper and lower incisor teeth that they use to cut into trees and woody vegetation. These teeth grow throughout the beaver's life.
© 2009 Elizabeth A. Sellers, Courtesy of life.nbii.gov
Habitat: Beavers live in the water, so they can be found in streams, small ponds, lakes, and rivers. They build their homes, or “lodges,” out of sticks and mud on islands, pond banks, or on lake shores. Some beavers will build burrows in the banks of rivers. You can often see Idaho beavers in the morning or evening, when they are most active.
Food: Beavers mostly eat tree bark and cambium, the soft tissue that grows under the bark of a tree. Their favorite trees include willow, maple, birch, aspen, cottonwood, beech, poplar, and alder trees, but they will also munch on other vegetation such as roots, buds, and water plants.
A beaver swimming
Fun Facts: Beavers mate for life, but if one mate dies, the other will find another mate. Females have one litter of “kits” per year. Beaver kits are born with their eyes wide open and can swim within 24 hours.
Credit: John J. Mosesso /life.nbii.gov