Animal Facts: Beaver

  • Jun 09, 2019
  • 372 words
  • 2 minutes
  • By
Expand Image

Beavers are famous for their buckteeth and large, flat tails. These two well-known features aid beavers in their lives from day to day.

The beaver’s teeth never stop growing. Chewing on tree trunks and branches helps keep the teeth from getting too long. A beaver’s front teeth stick out in front of their lips. That way, beavers can cut and chew underwater wood without getting water in their mouths. Beavers have a coating on their teeth that contains iron, which helps prevent tooth decay.

A beaver’s paddle-shaped tail is black and scaly. In water, it functions like a boat rudder, helping steer the beaver as it moves logs to its dam.

Beavers are builders! They spend much of their time building and maintaining their houses: dams and lodges—large dome-shaped piles of branches in lakes, rivers and larger streams. Beavers access their lodges through underwater entrances, which lead into dry living areas.

As the colder months approach, they spread a thin layer of mud on top of the lodge to keep out any predators, such as lynx and wolves. If a beaver feels threatened, it will slap its tail on the surface of the water to warn other beavers in the area, then it will dive deep underwater to stay safe.

Beavers can be found around lakes and streams all over Canada. In the past, beavers were over-hunted for their fur and meat, threatening the population. They have come back, however, thanks to wetland rehabilitation and other conservation efforts.

Fast Facts: Beaver

Scientific name: Castor canadensis 

Average size: 74 to 90 centimetres

Average weight: Can weigh up to 32 kilograms

Super Swimmers

Beavers have clear membranes over their eyes that help them to see underwater, like goggles.

Record Holder

The world’s longest beaver dam is found in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park and measures 850 metres. Dams usually average about 100 metres in length.

National Symbol 

The beaver was made an official emblem of Canada in 1975 in recognition of the importance of the fur trade.   

Did you know?

The beaver has long been an animal of importance to First Nations in North America, and beaver pelts formed the basis of trade with European settlers starting in the 1530s. 

Related Content

The focus of North America’s first natural resource stampede, beaver pelts attracted legions of traders


Rethinking the beaver

Has there ever been a national symbol more loathed or misunderstood? Has there ever been a more important time for the beaver to flourish?

  • 3360 words
  • 14 minutes
illegal wildlife trade, elephant foot, ivory, biodiversity


The illegal wildlife trade is a biodiversity apocalypse

An estimated annual $175-billion business, the illegal trade in wildlife is the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise. It stands to radically alter the animal kingdom.

  • 3405 words
  • 14 minutes
A grizzly bear lies dead on the side of the road


Animal crossing: Reconnecting North America’s most important wildlife corridor

This past summer an ambitious wildlife under/overpass system broke ground in B.C. on a deadly stretch of highway just west of the Alberta border. Here’s how it happened.

  • 3625 words
  • 15 minutes
Painted turtle


Photo gallery: Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

  • 1116 words
  • 5 minutes