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American Beaver

Overview

The beaver (Castor candensis) is North America’s largest rodent, weighing up to 60 lbs and measuring 25-30 inches long.

Download Ohio Wildlife Field Guides

Description

Beavers are well adapted to life in the water. Their webbed feet, waterproof fur, clear “third-eyelids,” and flattened, rudder-like tail enable them to be excellent swimmers. Their huge front teeth help them to cut through hard woods like maple and oak. These teeth grow throughout the animal's lifetime and are necessary for survival.

Reproduction

Beavers are generally monogamous and sexually mature at about three years of age. Peak breeding activity occurs during the winter season, usually in January or February. Young are born between April and July, after a gestation period of about 128 days. Litter size ranges from 1-4 kits. The kits are born furred, with their eyes open, and are able to swim within 24 hours. They usually stay with their parents in colonies until they move out to find a new home.

Habitat & Behavior

This furbearer occurs in forested ponds, lakes, and rivers with the highest abundance being found in the eastern and western portions of Ohio. Beavers living along a river make burrows with an underwater entrance in the riverbank; those in streams, lakes and ponds usually build dams that generally incorporate a lodge, which has one or more underwater entrances and living quarters in a hollow near the top. Wood chips on the floor absorb excess moisture and a vent admits fresh air. Typical foods include poplar, aspen, willow, birch, and maple trees.

Research & Surveys

Beaver Population Report [pdf]

2012 Update

This furbearer occurs in forested ponds, lakes and rivers with the highest abundance being found in the eastern and southern portions of Ohio. The statewide population trend has been stable to increasing over the past 10 years. Relatively high populations of beaver will continue to provide opportunities to harvest and observe this species during 2012-13.