Year of the Pond

a beaver pond diary

About Beavers

The Beaver

The North American Beaver. (Castor canadensis) is the largest rodent on the North American continent. It was nearly exterminated by hunting, its fur coat being highly valued, but its numbers have increased in recent years.

What do beavers look like?

Adult beavers are 29-35 inches long, not including the 8-14 inch, paddle-shaped tail. The beaver is equipped for life in an aquatic environment, having webbed hind feet to propel itself through water, a membrane that shields its eyes underwater, a paddle shaped tail, and an oily secretion it uses to waterproof its brown fur coat. – Wikipedia


North American Beaver. Photo by Steve Hersey.

What do beavers eat?

Beavers are vegetarians. They feed on the bark of deciduous trees and wood shrubs, and on the tuberous roots of pond lilies.

Why do beavers build dams?

Beavers rely on ponds for security and store food for the winter. Where there is no pond, a beaver will create one by damming a stream with rocks, mud and branches. To do that, the beaver is equipped with strong, sharp teeth that grow continuously, which is uses to cut down trees and trim branches. With its nimble front feet, it can manipulate materials to build a dam. Water that backs up behind the dam forms a pond suitable for beavers to live in…a beaver pond.

How do beavers live?

Beavers breed from mid-January to early June depending on whether they’re in the south or northern part of their range. gestation Click word for definitionlasts 106 days which is much longer than for most rodents. parturition Click word for definition, or birth, occurs from April to-June in Idaho. litter Click word for definitionsize varies from 1 to 9 young, but the average is 3 to 5 (larger in north than in south). Young are weaned Click word for definitionin about 6 weeks. A female produces 1 litter per year. A pair can mate for life, and the male cares for young by maintaining the dams, gathering food and helping watch for predators. Young mature and disperse in 1.5 to 2 years. – Idaho State University

What do beavers do in winter?


Beaver Ponds

Beaver ponds provide water, food and shelter for many other species of animal and plant life. For this reason, the beaver considered a “keystone” species.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Storing water on the earth’s surface, modeling the impacts of drought.
  • Filtering and cleaning water of sediment and pollutants that otherwise would flow into other bodies of water.
  • Providing habitat for diverse animals and plants.

In many areas, especially in the West, beavers are increasingly viewed as key partners in the restoration of diverse plant and animal communities. Beaver ponds provide vital habitat for many species of fish, amphibians, and birds while also conserving threatened water supplies and moderating downstream flooding. – – Ducks Unlimited

What happens when a beaver dam collapses?