Created | Updated Aug 3, 2005
Beavers are small aquatic rodents, living in wooden structures called 'lodges', that they build in rivers. These lodges are where the beaver raises its young and stores food for winter. Beavers tend to live in families of four; two parents and two kids. Baby beavers, called kits, are born with great instinct, leaving the lodge at the ripe old age of one.
All beavers have thick waterproof fur and are generally about 60cm in length and about 20cm in height. They have webbed hind feet and large incisor teeth. Being aquatic rodents, they can stay underwater for around 15 minutes. They also have very broad, waffle-like tails which are used for propelling, and, in the case of danger, for slapping against the water. This tail slap can be heard from a mile away.
Beavers are the second largest rodents on the Earth, next to the capybara1. In prehistoric times, beavers were much larger; about the size of grizzly bears.
They are herbivores that eat bark from trees and they are commonly found in North America and North Asia. They are also found in Europe, but only as a protected species2.
Beaver trapping was one of the main reasons Canada was settled. A couple of hundred years ago, beavers were becoming extinct in North America as well as in Europe. The trapping was done mostly by the French because beaver hats and coats were, and unfortunately still are, very popular.