North American Beaver

The North American Beaver is North America's largest rodent. They are a keystone species responsible for creating wetlands by building dams from trees and flooding waterways. Their thick brown coat is made up of two layers. The top layer is made of long, glossy guard hairs while the undercoat is dense enough to keep their skin dry underwater. Their paddle-shaped tail and webbed feet allow these aquatic mammals to maneuver through water.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Castor canadensis
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
5-10 Years
SIZE
36-48 ” | 40-70 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Not Evaluated
GAME STATUS
Furbearer
GAME TYPE
Furbearer
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The North American Beaver prefers habitat with adequate water and rich vegetation to forage for food and fell trees. They can be found in the streams and tributaries of the Snake River, the Humboldt River basin, and along the Colorado River.

  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh
  • Rivers and streams

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss

Natural History

The North American Beaver is a herbivore that eats a variety of aquatic plants and the inner bark of trees. Their specialized teeth allow them to cut down the vegetation to eat and fell trees to build dams and lodges. These dams can change the landscape of a habitat drastically through creating new wetlands and ponds. Other animals, like otters and waterfowl, benefit from increased wetland habitat, this is what makes the Beaver considered to be a keystone species. Beaver dams naturally filter water, mitigate the effects of drought, and can build up flora and fauna diversity. This not only helps create a diverse replenishing food availability for Beaver, but also is needed to combat drought in the dry landscapes of Nevada. These Beavers are monogamous. Female Beavers will have roughly a litter of one to four young, or “kits,” per year. Young adolescent Beavers will stick around to help raise new kits born the following year. At two years of age, they will leave home to find a mate and create a lodge of their own.

Fun Facts

Before Europeans colonized North America, the Beaver population was estimated to be 100 to 200 million individuals. From 1670 to 1870 the beaver population plunged due to the fur trade. Regulations in hunting and habitat protection grew the United States’ population of Beavers to an estimated 15 million individuals today.