Species profile

Name: beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents. There are two species: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis), and the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber).

Appearance: beavers have stout bodies with large heads, long incisors, brown or grey fur, and flat, scaly tails. The Eurasian beaver is slightly longer with lighter fur and a narrower tail.

Size: they are the second-largest rodents after the capybara, with a length of up to 1.5 metres and a weight of 30 kg.

Diet: beavers are herbivores, eating tree bark, aquatic plants, and grasses.

Did you know: beavers are famous for their ability to build dams and lodges using tree branches, vegetation, rocks, and mud. As well as providing shelter for beavers, these dams create wetland habitats that are used by many other species, making them a keystone species. When they are old enough, young beavers help their parents repair the dams and even help to raise newly-born kits. They mark their territory with a powerful scent released from specialised castor sacs. This ‘castoreum’ has been used in medicine, perfume, and food flavouring for hundreds of years.

Location: they live in freshwater habitats such as rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. The American beaver is found throughout most of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico. They were introduced to Finland in 1937 and Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, in 1946. The Eurasian beaver’s range historically included much of Eurasia, but was decimated by hunting by the early 20th century. They have since recolonised parts of their former range through conservation and reintroduction projects.

Where to see beavers

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see beavers in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
River Otter
very high
very good
Brecon Beacons
very low
very good

Photo credit: WildSide team member Chris White

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