American Beaver (Castor canadensis)
The American Beaver is an aquatic member of the rodent family. They have glossy brown fur, a rounded body, short legs, and webbed toes on their hind paws. Beavers are the largest rodent in North America, averaging 40 inches from nose to tail, and typically weighing about 45 pounds. They have distinctive flat tails which are covered in black scales. Beavers also have especially large teeth which help them gnaw through wood.
Beavers are found in waterways near deciduous or mixed forests throughout most of North America. Beavers build dams in rivers and streams. These dams are made of logs, stones, sticks, and mud. The dams slow the water flow and create a suitable area for beavers to construct their lodges.
Beavers are herbivores, and they primarily the outer and inner bark of trees. They are one of the few mammals that can digest cellulose, thanks to special microorganisms in their digestive systems. They also eat leaves and wetland plants. Beavers are mostly nocturnal but can sometimes be seen foraging at dusk.
Beavers live in family groups known as colonies. These colonies consist of a monogamous mated pair and several of their young. The mated pair will have one litter of young per year, usually in spring or early summer. The kits grow rapidly, but they will stay with their parents until they reach two years of age. At this point, the young disperse to start their own families.
Fun Fact: Beavers will sometimes share their lodges with muskrats.