Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
If you can't find the answer below then
1. Q: What do beavers eat?
A: Beavers are vegetarians that often prefer to eat herbaceous
plants, such as clover, grasses, raspberry canes and aquatic
vegetation, instead of the green bark, leaves and twigs of fast
growing trees, such as aspen and willows. Beaver can survive on the
tubers of water lilies.
1a. Q: Do beavers hibernate?
A: Definitely not. Beavers have an active life all winter long,
even when trapped under the ice in the North. They normally store
enough food underwater to last them till the ice melts and retrieve
it through their underwater exits and entrances to their lodges
2. Q: How long do beavers live?
A: 20-30 years in captivity. Dorothy Richards had a beaver that
lived over 20 years in an addition to her house. In most areas with
predators and beaver trapping, they live 10 years or less.
3. Q: How much does a beaver weigh?
A: As an adult they average 40-60 lbs.(18-27kg.). Newborns often
weigh about one pound (0.5 kg.).
4. Q: How do I care for an orphaned beaver kit?
A: In some states it's illegal for anyone except a licensed
wildlife rehabilitator to possess wild animals, and a rehabber is
best able to care for a kit. To find a rehabber, call the local
animal shelter, state wildlife agency, sheriff's department or a
Cher Button-Dobmeier (585.466.7811) is a wildlife rehabilitator
who is an expert in the care of beaver kit orphans and injured
Any nursing orphan that has been separated from its mother for a
few days is probably dehydrated, and should be first offered a
rehydrating solution, such as Pedialyte, from an eyedropper or small
nursing bottle. Gradually add formula (one part ready-made Esbilac to
one part Half and Half) to this. Kits need to be kept warm, but also
need to defecate in water. Some people use a bath tub with a nest box
at one end, and water in a washtub at the other end. They also should
be offered poplar or willow leaves and rodent blocks. Kits can be
released in the spring of their first year, but chances of survival
are increased if released their second spring.
5. Q: How long does a beaver stay in the same
A: Until the food runs out--this may occur in a few years or a
6. Q: Do beaver mate for life?
A: Yes, but if the first mate dies, they often find another. As
occurs in many species, a new male may reject the offspring of the
7. Q: Do the males fight over females?
A: No, but the adults of both sexes tend to be very territorial
once the family unit is established. They post their territory with
scent mounds that tell other beavers that this wetland is occupied.
8. Q: How do beavers migrate and move to another
A: By water or land, and if by land, this is where much mortality
occurs from predators, such as coyotes, and accidents. They have been
known to travel tens of miles. The two-year-olds usually leave home
to find their own territory, and create new ponds by daming streams.
At the same time, they often dig a burrow in the side of a bank, lay
sticks on top and then burrow upward to start a lodge. As they build
up the dam to increase the water level, the lodge becomes surrounded
by water. If the waterway is a river they may just build a bank
9. Q: Are beavers dangerous to people?
A: Rarely. They belong to the order rodentia, but are more
closely related to squirrels than to mice. Beavers are gentle social
animals that have a strong inhibition against biting. They can become
somewhat aggressive during the mating season, which usually occurs in
the winter. Any animal, however, may bite when frightened or
cornered, so avoid a hissing or blowing beaver.
10. Q: How can you tell the sex of a beaver?
A: Both sexes have a cloaca similar to a chicken, i.e. only one
opening for the digestive, urinary and reproductive systems. Since
there are no external sex organs, observation of enlarged nipples can
be used to identify a nursing female. Because the penis has a bone,
X-rays or palpatation are other common methods. Another way is to
express the anal glands of a tame, or immobilized animal. If the
secretion is dark (brownish), then it is a male. If light (clear or
whitish), it is a female.
10a. Q: What are the male and female beaver called?
A: There are no special names for the male or female, but the
babies are called kits.
11. Q: Will beavers overrun the landscape?
A: Beavers are limited by the amount of available habitat and
food. They are also limited to areas with lakes and waterways, which
is normally only a few percent of the landscape.
Only a fraction of the former beaver population prior to European
settlement remains, and much of their former habitat has been
developed. Since one colony (family) can require a half mile of
streamside habitat, their population is unlikely to explode. Also,
beaver birth rates slow as available sites become occupied.
12. Q: Why isn't trapping or relocation, the best
way to solve a beaver/human conflict?
A: Removal tends to be only a short term solution, since if there's good
beaver habitat others are apt to take their place and you will have the same
conflict. It is usually better to solve the specific problem and live with the
beavers, because they produce such valuable habitat and other benefits. Use of
drowning sets is inhumane, because beavers can hold their breath for ten to
fifteen minutes and suffer intensely from hypoxia (lack of oxygen) before death
without undergoing carbon dioxide narcosis.
13. Q: When are beavers active?
A: Beavers are active mainly at night, but occasionally can be
seen out and about during the day. The best time to see beavers is at
dusk, i.e. about an hour before darkness or at sun up early in the