Page 149 - A Field Guide to Fairfax County's Plants and Wildlife
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(Castor canadensis)


These hefty aquatic animals are the
largest rodents in North America.
The average length is 1 to 1.2 meters. Their thick, waterproof fur is dark
brown. Beavers use their flattened, hairless, scaly tail like a paddle to help
them swim. They also slap their tails in the water to communicate with others
of their kind. The gnawing teeth are very large and bright orange. Beavers
mate for life and live in family groups. The male and female build a lodge in
the water or dig a burrow on the bank of a lake or river. Mating season is in
winter; two to four young beavers (kits) are born in February or March and
cared for by both parents. Kits remain with their parents for up to two years,
helping to care for their younger siblings, before they become independent.
Beavers are long-lived for rodents and may live as long as 20 years.

Distribution and Habitat Beaver dams help control flooding
and erosion, trap sediments and
Beavers are found in all five filter excess nutrients and pollution,
physiographic provinces, although all of which improve local water
not in large numbers. They can live quality and benefit the Chesapeake
almost anywhere there is water. Bay. Ponds and wet meadows
They are skilled at building dams created by beaver dams provide
to create ponds that protect them wetland habitat for other mammals,
from predators and enable them to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and
swim to their food supply. However, invertebrates.
beavers that live in deep streams,
rivers and lakes do not need
dams. Urban beavers may occupy
stormwater ponds and other man-
made water features.

Role in Food Web

Beavers eat a wide variety of leaves, twigs,
bark, roots and bulbs. Adults have few
predators (except humans, who trap them
for their fur), but kits may be taken by foxes,
Coyotes or birds of prey.

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