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

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. 
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.  

beaver in water 
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.    

beaver dam
Credit: John J. Mosesso /

Environmental Education:
Wildlife Species 


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Hunting & Poaching
Injured Wildlife
Wildlife Science in the BLM

Herbivore Mammals

Pygmy rabbit
Desert cottontail
Eastern gray squirrel
Red squirrel
Deer mouse
Kangaroo rat
Meadow vole
Mule deer
Bighorn sheep
American pronghorn

Carnivore Mammals

American badger
River otter
Red fox
Long-tailed weasel
Grizzly bear
Mountain lion



Long-toed salamander
Idaho giant salamander
Coeur d'Alene salamander

Frogs and Toads

American bullfrog
Columbia spotted frog
Western toad
Northern leopard frog
Pacific tree frog
Great Basin spadefoot



Painted turtle
Northern alligator lizard
Mohave black-collared lizard
Short-horned lizard
Desert horned lizard
Sagebrush lizard
Western fence lizard
Western skink
Side-blotched lizard
Longnosed leopard lizard
Western whiptail


Western pipistrelle
Western small-footed myotis
Little brown bat
Yuma myotis
Townsend's big-eared bat
Hoary bat
Silver-haired bat
Fringed myotis
Pallid bat

Sensitive Species (not a complete list)

Greater sage-grouse
Pygmy rabbit
No. Idaho ground squirrel
So. Idaho ground squirrel
Canada lynx
Grizzly bear
Selkirk Mtns. woodland caribou
Kootenai White River sturgeon
Bull trout
Sockeye salmon
Chinook salmon
Steelhead trout
Yellow-billed cuckoo