Beavers are undeniably cute. With their two little front teeth and their brown fur and tiny little eyes, anyone would be curious if these adorable animals would be great as pets.
How tame or wild are they?
Will they clash with other animals?
Are they allowed domestically?
Majority of the states in America do not allow beavers to be made as pets.
They are generally wild animals and are not easily trained. Their natural instinct is to gnaw at wood, which would make it extremely difficult for you to keep them settled down at your home. You would lose all your wooden furniture. They’re not known to attack other animals or children and as far as we know they are not predatory species. But taking care of them is a hassle, to say the least.
Beavers are popular for their dam-building skills. They are great engineers of their own habitat. They get their supply of wood by gnawing through trees in the forest little by little with their sharp teeth. They eat the sweet layer of the tree barks, gnaw through halfway of the trunk and let gravity take care of the rest.
Their incisor teeth have iron as a natural component that gives them the metallic kind of hardness and strength. Their teeth have the natural ability to self-sharpen and constantly grow just like human nails. A biologist from Sonoma State University also discovered that beavers contribute to the rapid growth of seagrass.
Beavers can survive and thrive on land but they mostly prefer to live on water in dams made of wood.
However, they face the struggle of having sea otters occupy their homes whenever they’re not around. It has always been interesting how the measurement of their dams are mostly accurate with a horizontal length of precisely 150 yards.
These animals are natural born engineers that they do not allow even just a slight leak in their dam to go unnoticed. Beaver families are also very united and coordinated and are able to delegate tasks efficiently.
Facts About Beavers
There are two known species of beavers.
American beavers (Castor canadensis) usually weigh around 60 lbs (27 kg). Their height can go from 23 to 39 inches (60 to 100 centimeters) and that’s for their bodies alone. Their tails are usually 7.75 to 12 inches (20 to 30.5 cm) long based on the research conducted by the National Geographic team.
The second species are the Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) that weigh from 29 to 77 lbs (13 to 35 kg) and their height is typically 29 to 53 in (73 to 135 cm) based on the information gathered by the Animal Diversity Web of the University of Michigan. They have a smaller build compared to the American beavers with narrower tails and smaller skull sizes.
The ADW also states that the typical size of beavers’ upper incisor teeth is 20-25 mm long and continues to grow throughout their entire lifespan. Their nostrils, ears, and eyes are generally adaptive to their environment, which allows them to survive both on land and water. Beavers secrete a substance called castoreum from the scent glands found on their tails and they use this substance to mark their territory.
Beaver dams are built in the middle of small bodies of water like rivers and streams. They build these dams to serve mainly as their habitat and fortress against predators. They leave traces of their urine around the dam to mark it as their territory, build mounds of soil and add the secretion of their scent glands. They are territorial animals and they react aggressively if they sense an unfamiliar scent that has stepped into their territory. Aside from that, their dams also contribute a lot in the regulation of the flow of water to make way for the formation of wetlands.
When threatened, beavers slap their tails on the ground as a defense mechanism or as a threat to their enemy. They also bare their teeth to their enemy. Their bites can be fatal not just because of their sharp teeth but because they are also known to carry rabies.
Beavers are generally herbivores, feeding mainly on plants and wood. They thrive on twigs, broken stems, tree barks, aquatic plants, and fresh leaves. They seem to have developed a general liking to certain types of trees like alder, aspen, birch, cottonwood, maple, poplar, and willow. They like to roll water lily pads before they eat them. Other water plants that they eat are cattails, sedges and rushes. They do not eat meat or fish.
During the fall, beavers will collect as many sticks as they can and store them in their lodge to serve as food reserves because they are likely to remain inside their habitat for most of the winter season.
The little wooden houses that beavers reside in are called lodges. There are two kinds of lodges that beavers commonly build. The first kind, the conical lodge, is built in the middle of a dam that is also made by the beavers themselves. Conical lodges are made of sticks, rocks, and soil. The dam is supposed to protect it from predators. The second kind called the bank lodge, is typically dug near riverbanks or shores of lakes if the current is too strong to build a conical lodge.
You would be surprised by the intricate details that the interior of beaver lodges have. They have a designated area for sleeping, eating, grooming, and a place for the baby beavers as well. They have a small opening at the peak of their lodge that resembles a chimney and serves as their ventilation. This is the only part of their home that they do not put mud on.
Underneath the lodge, there are usually two tunnels that beavers use to travel safely to and from their lodge out of sight from predators. The mud and wood of the lodge are sturdy and insulated so that even though the cold outside reaches below zero, the inside of their home remains warm enough for the beavers to survive.
A family of beavers is called a colony. One lodge is intended for one colony only. The mating season for beavers is between January to March. Young beavers are called kits. After a gestation period of 60 to 128 days, Eurasian beavers can have up to six kits in a single birth, with each kit weighing from 8 to 22 ounces (230-630 grams) each. Their young can already survive without feeding off their mother’s milk when they reach six weeks of age.
American beavers on the other hand take 105 to 107 days to gestate. Their kits weigh 9 to 21 oz (250 to 600 g), with only a maximum of 4 kits born in a single birth. Kits are weaned when they reach 2 weeks old and they usually leave their parents’ lodge and start building their own. At 3 weeks, they find a mate.
Never leave your pets unattended. When taking them for a trip outside, keep them on a leash. Have them vaccinated against rabies. If they are ever bitten by a beaver, wash the bite wound with soap and water. Consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible to have the necessary medical precautions.
Is it safe to have beavers as pets?
Beavers are cute, with that there is no doubt. However, their lifestyle has always been surviving in the wild. They are the kind of animal that do not need pampering and can thrive on their own. They would not make great pets. There are people who have adopted kits and raised them but eventually when they have matured enough, they are sent back into their natural habitat and allowed to live as they usually do. They cannot be trained and they do not have that kind of connection with humans like dogs and cats have. Because of their natural affinity for wood, they would just most likely end up gnawing through all your wooden furniture.
Beavers are generally friendly creatures but they are not accustomed to a household setting especially in an urban environment. Their nature is to be in the wilderness, particularly in the water where they are able to thrive on their own. Even though they do not possess that predatory nature, it does not guarantee that you and everyone else in your household are safe.
Beavers still attack when they feel threatened or when they are provoked. There was one incident that happened back in 2013 when a fisherman was attacked and killed by a beaver because it was provoked when he came close to take a photo with it. It does not happen often but it is better to be safe. They may be small but their two sharp teeth can still do fatal damage.
They are also very territorial and any unwanted visitor who comes near their homes are already considered a threat. They do not prowl or attack immediately but they will be on their guard and have a tendency to get aggressive. If you really want to keep one as a pet, you might have to go through some regulatory restrictions. Also, the potential risks and hazards
of having such an animal in your home are worth considering, along with what you plan to feed them or where you will keep them.
Why you should not pet beavers
Wild animals should not be kept as pets. That includes beavers.
- Wild animals do not have that natural affinity and affection for people.
- They are generally dangerous and they have difficulty thriving in an environment where their natural instincts are suppressed.
- Although beavers aren’t predatory species, their inherent lifestyle will make them difficult to handle in your home.
- Their diet is mostly comprised of wood, so they will most likely chew on any wood that they encounter in your house. Your furniture are the ones most at risk.
- They move rather quickly and it will be hard for you to get them to settle down unless you keep them caged.
- Aside from the possibility of them destroying your home, looking after their dirt is also a huge problem. It is near impossible to toilet-train a beaver. They will dump their waste anywhere they deem convenient.
- Since they are also quite aggressive, it will be difficult to bathe them regularly and sometimes they are just downright uncontrollable. If you attempt to get them to settle down, they might see you as a threat and attack you.
- They do not typically recognize humans as owners or companions so they will most likely not submit. If you want to keep them in your home, you will need to set a spot where there is water for them to play in, swim in, bathe in, and excrete their waste in.
Keeping them inside your home will most likely end in disaster.
Do beavers get along well with cats, dogs and other pets?
It might be a little difficult to put a beaver and a dog or cat in the same room without expecting a conflict to arise. Beavers are territorial creatures and do not like sharing their space with others. They might see the dog or cat as a potential threat to their space and will force them to become cautious and aggressive. They might bare their teeth and claws as a defense mechanism.
Do beavers attack humans?
As long as they are not provoked or threatened, beavers can be friendly and sociable to humans. They do not have the impulse or instinct to attack immediately. Just do not disrupt them while they are busy in their natural habitat. Do not attempt to take their food or disturb them in their homes. Beaver attacks are uncommon but they can still happen if these animals are somehow abused or harmed.
What do beavers usually eat?
Beavers like to eat leaves and the soft outer layer of tree barks. They are natural herbivores so they feed mainly on plants, more specifically aquatic plants. They also eat vegetables and fruits in certain seasons. But their main staple during the cold season are the sticks and twigs that they have gathered. Even though they are a part of the bear family, they do not hibernate during the winter and therefore will need food reserves to survive since they won’t have much access to land vegetation once their pond freezes.
Will beavers chew all the wood I have in my house?
It is no question that beavers just love wood. May it be for snacking or building their homes, they just have a natural attachment to it. So yes, there is a very high possibility that they will bare their teeth into any kind of wooden structure they will find in your home.
You can prevent this from happening by providing them with a lot of wooden sticks and twigs that they can collect and chew on. You have to have a large supply of this if you do not want your furniture or other wooden objects in your house to be their target. You can put them inside a huge cage in your backyard and fill the cage with lots of twigs and sticks to keep them entertained. Let them out every once in a while for a little garden stroll.
If you bring them indoors, never make the mistake of letting them out of your sight if you do not want to find your house in shambles after they have made their way through every wood that they can get their hands on.
How long is the average lifespan of a beaver?
Beavers can live as long as 7 to 8 years in the wild. They can also live up to 25 years in captivity provided that they are well taken care of.
Other things to know when petting beavers
In the wilderness, beavers use leaves, twigs, sticks, mug, and other things found in nature to build their habitat. That is their natural instinct. Wherever you put them, they will make it a point to build a lodge out of whatever they can find.
They do not smell nice.
They are naturally inclined to find a mate and bear offspring so it would not do them well to stay in captivity. They will do whatever it takes to break free.
No matter how cute they may be, beavers are not suited to become pets. It’s simply not in their nature to be a human’s companion. They are untrainable. Nature is their home and they survive and thrive well in the wilderness rather than under human care. They live both in water and on land but their lodge, where they mostly reside in, is built in the midst of a dam in the water. Wood and vegetables are the two main parts of their diet. They even eat their own fecal waste.
In most places, there are laws that prohibit people from keeping wild animals as pets and keeping them inside cages as well. Animals that are naturally born to live in the wilderness will find it difficult to survive in an enclosed environment. Even raising them from the minute they were born, you still cannot take away the fact that when they mature, they will always revert back to their wild impulses and instincts and no amount of training can change that. It would be in your best interest to allow them to live and grow in their natural habitat together with their own species.
How and where do beavers store their food?
Beavers gather tree barks, twigs, and sticks and take it to their dam. Within that dam, they dive into the deep parts and bury their wood supply into the mud. That will serve as their food reservoir for the entire winter season since they cannot go to their ponds when they freeze over. It takes them most of the autumn season to stockpile their food.
Where can I get a beaver?
It’s against the law to raise a beaver in your home. They are not sold in pet stores. If ever you come across a young kit, you are still not allowed to keep it as your own. You can coordinate with authorities to help locate the young beaver’s family and return it there.
How often do beavers sleep?
Beavers sleep around 11 hours in a day. They are generally nocturnal animals, which means they are awake at night and asleep during the day. But they can also be found awake during daytime. They are very active in areas where there is little to no human presence and activity. They do most of their work during the nighttime and are able to complete their lodge in a couple of nights.
At peak times of the day, they are typically asleep. They begin their day just a few moments after the sun sets. If you plan on keeping one in your home which you are most likely not allowed to do anyway, their sleep schedule is one thing you should keep in mind. Unlike most bears, they do not hibernate in the winter so you will still be able to spend time with them even during the cold season.
What time of day are they most active?
Like mentioned before, they are typically nocturnal animals that are most active during nighttime. Their days begin at dusk and end at dawn. They spend their day gathering food, building their dam and their lodge, and other kinds of work. They are busiest during the fall in preparation for the winter season. It usually takes them a couple of months to finish building their dam.
By the time that winter begins, most bear species would be in hibernation. The same cannot be said for the beavers. They are still active during winter, albeit staying mostly indoors and swimming underwater to get to their food supply and bring it to their lodge. Because of the insulation they efficiently built into their lodge, it keeps them safe and warm even when the temperature outside is borderline freezing.
Where do you usually find active beavers?
Most of the time, beavers stay in their dams and lodges in the water rather than on land. They are great swimmers so they thrive well on water. As a matter of fact, their lodges are built safely for them. The entrance to their home can be found underwater so no one else can enter. It is not easily accessed by land predators due to the strong engineering and the location.
When is the mating season for beavers?
Winter is also the mating season for beavers. Along the months of January towards March, when they mostly just stay indoors, they mate. After 8 to 18 weeks of gestation period, one to six young kits are birthed some time around May or June. Beavers are monogamous animals and only have one mate unless the other one dies.
What sounds do beavers make?
Beavers do not have a distinct sound that they make. However, they do have body actions that they do that indicate when they feel threatened. They slap their tail on the water or on a solid surface if they sense danger or if they are threatened. When this happens, they usually seek refuge back to their home and stay hidden until they deem it safe enough to go out again. They make slight growling or hissing sounds when angered or provoked. They can also produce grunting or grumbling sounds.
Why do beavers build dams?
The dams that beavers build serve as the spot where they put up their lodge. The dam protects their lodge from predators. Since they are mostly aquatic animals, they like to stay in or near bodies of water.
Beavers enter their lodge by diving underwater and go through the tunnel that they also built. The lodge is where they mate, give birth, and raise their young kits. In a few years, the kits mature and go off to build their own dams and lodges and mate and bear their own offspring.
Beaver dams can withstand extreme weather conditions with the engineering made of wood, stones, and wet soil. The location where they build their dam contributes to their safety. All beavers possess this unique engineering skill. Like for example, the beavers of Wyoming.
How do beavers build dams?
When a male beaver reaches the age of two years old, that is the point of maturity. He will leave the home that he grew up in and start building his own dam and lodge for his mate and their offspring. He will start to learn to survive on his own.
It won’t be a great start since the young beaver is still beginning to learn how to build the dam and the lodge. But as time goes by, his skills improve and not long after he will succeed in making a great and sturdy home for his future family. Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, beaver dams help in filtering the water that flows in rivers and lakes. The pond that they build, which contains mud, soil, stones, rocks, and wood, help prevent erosion and floods.
But the initial challenge lies in finding a good location for the dam and the lodge. This is the part that usually takes quite a bit of time because the beavers still have to seek out an area where it is safe and convenient to build a home in. But there are some chances when beavers encounter an abandoned lodge, so all they have to do is rebuild it and make sure it’s good as new. The process is pretty much the same. They gather wood, sticks, twigs, and broken branches from trees along with several stones and rocks to serve as their dam wall to keep water out.
With the rocks as the lower foundation, the wood will make up the next layer. Mud is placed in between the small openings on the wood layer to establish a strong and impenetrable wall that is free from leaks. When dams break, it can either be due to a strong water current or the foundation was not strong enough.
The importance of beavers in the wilderness
Beavers are significant contributors in the balance of the ecosystem. Their homes help maintain the regulation of the current in small bodies of water. Aside from that, it also helps to filter the debris that is carried by the stream. It can also be a home for other animals that they get along with and it also gathers the nutrients and essential minerals of the soil. The ponds that they build help in the remaking of the land and water formations at that area which can bring about numerous benefits to the development of vegetation.
We only know of two species of beavers so far – the Eurasian and the American beaver. They are the crossbreeds of bears and rodents that are quite large in size and their two sharp front teeth constantly grow throughout their lifetime. It is their main tool for eating and gnawing through wood. They are natural engineers and plumbers. They have skills in building dams while also making sure that their walls are free from leaks.
There used to be millions of beavers in the United States and Canada way back in the early times. Rivers and streams in America would be filled with millions of beaver dams and lodges. Picture out seeing 5 to 30 beavers in every kilometer in areas near rivers and streams and other small bodies of water.
But when the hunting began, the beaver population drastically decreased in numbers. Beavers started being hunted for their fur which was used to make coats. Their secretion called castoreum was also used in the manufacture of perfumes. Ruthless and merciless hunters would not stop for as long as there were still beavers left to hunt.
The condition of the ecosystem without the contributions made by the beavers went low. There were less and less dams being built on rivers. Other animals who took refuge in beaver homes were left homeless. The good thing though, is that people took action and the hunting was illegalized.
Today, the beaver population is still quite low but is slowly rising. And the ecosystem is restored to its natural balance. More aquatic animals are making homes out of beaver dams as well. They are more protected and are thriving well in their natural habitat.
To conclude, beavers have a more positive impact in the wilderness than they would have in your home. So it is best not to keep them as pets and let them roam free in the wilderness where they truly belong.