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American Beaver

Scientific Name:

Castor canadensis




Rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands


Continental U.S., Alaska, Canada, and northern Mexico


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


North America's largest rodent, beavers can grow up to four feet long and can weigh over 60 pounds. Beavers have dark brown fur on their bodies which they coat in an oily secretion, making them waterproof. Beaver tails are large, flat, and nearly hairless. Besides balance, beavers use their tails to smack the surface of the water to deter predators from approaching their dams. Beavers have four legs. Their front legs are shorter than their back ones, and beavers' back feet are webbed.

Fast Facts:

  • Beavers are second only to humans in their ability to manipulate the environment around them. They build dams to raise the water levels of their home ponds so that the pond is at their preferred depth for lodge-building.

  • Beavers live in family groups with parents and offspring until, at around two years of age, offspring mature and leave to start a new family unit.

  • Beavers are mostly nocturnal animals, spending most of their waking hours eating and building dams and lodges throughout the night.

  • In parks along the Truckee River, such as Oxbow Nature Study Area, one might see felled or damaged trees as well as trees with chicken wire wrapped around their bases. All of these are signs of beaver activity, and also likely the most you will see of these mainly nocturnal animals.

  • Chicken wire is wrapped around the base of trees to prevent beavers from cutting down too many trees, such as cottonwoods, that are important for riparian habitats and the other species that live in them.

  • In the Paiute language, beavers are called Kohe'e.



Haley McGuire (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

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