Weighing up to 100 lbs., the beaver is the second largest rodent on North America. Beavers spend a lot of time building their homes or remodeling them on a whim. A beaver's home, built of sticks and mud, is typically 15 feet wide and 5 feet high. A beaver stops the flow of water in a small stream. The damming of water creates a pond to build their home in.
A beaver’s diet consists mainly of tree bark, twigs, water grasses, roots and water lilies. Beavers store food for winter inside and around the outside of their homes. Most of a 5-foot beaver dam is underwater so when the pond is frozen in winter, the beaver can't leave his home to search for food.
Ponds created by beavers benefit many wildlife species, such as otter, mink, muskrats, deer, bear, water birds and grouse. On the other hand, dams block trout from migrating upstream, rendering them unable to reproduce. Beaver dams plug man-made structures, like culverts or drainage canals, flooding roads, railroad tracks and farm fields.
A beaver’s tail looks like a boat rudder and used by the beaver to steer itself through the water. Beavers are more graceful in water than on land and need their tail for balance when they go ashore for food. Webbed back toes help them swim quickly and carry stones and sticks back to their homes. Beavers have coarse hair that ranges in color from pale yellow to black. A beaver’s large teeth make easy work of chopping down a small tree.
A beaver family lives together, including parents, yearlings and kit – little kids. A 2-year-old beaver is much like an 18-year-old human; all grown up and ready to be independent. The adult beaver moves out of its parents' home to begin a life and family of its own. As with some humans, beavers have one mate for life.
Although beavers seem cute, do not get too close. Beavers attack when they feel threatened. Not typically vicious, they do bite hard with those large, sharp teeth. Never approach any wild animal as they are unpredictable. In general, beavers seem to move slowly but in reality, they can move very quickly when they need to.
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