Do you know beavers belong to the family of the biggest rodents alive living in this world? These rodents have thick protective fur, webbed flattened feet, and scale-covered tails. As you read this article, you might wonder what do beavers eat to fill their big bellies.
With strong teeth and powerful jaws, they change their environment by building dams as homes. You must have heard that famous idioms like “eager beaver” and “busy as a beaver”. These are synonymous with being hardworking and diligent. But it is evident that these hard-working, dam-building animals need a lot of food to survive too!
But what do beavers eat? Do beavers eat wood or just chew it? We have all the answers for you here!
These adorable brown furry creatures with big teeth and flattened tails are often seen gnawing at a tree. But chewing on trees is for a different reason. Let’s dive into it right away!
Table of Contents
What do beavers eat?
If you ever wonder do beavers eat fish, let’s clarify that they are vegetarians. These rodents build their digs alongside water bodies near trees.
But beavers don’t simply eat any wild tree that they come across. Their eating habits are pretty astonishing as it includes different varieties and choices for eating—also, their diet changes with the season.
During autumn and spring, they will have flowers and woody. But during summer, they rely on soft vegetation. In winter, beavers mostly indulge in woody affair.
Do you know that the guts of the beavers have specific micro-organisms to help them with digestion? Hence the cellulose is easily digestible, making them enjoy nibbling wood.
Beavers mostly indulge in the bark from the willow, aspen, cottonwood poplar, birch, maple, oak, black cherry, apple trees, and alder. From the soft vegetation, they have grasses, apples, water lilies, giant ragweed, clover, watercress, and cattails.
When vegetation is rare and sparse, during winters, beavers munch on sagebrush.
What time of the day do beavers eat?
Beavers are nocturnal creatures that like to waltz around in your backyard during the nights.
They are primarily active during the night. If you ever want to see a beaver in action, the night is the best time.
They gather their food at night and happily build and eat during the day.
Such a simple living, right? Well, it’s more complicated than you think!
These beavers love to keep themselves busy, gnawing at trees and building their dens and lodges.
The concept of ‘busy as a beaver’ came from actual beavers who are builders of their community!
How much do beavers eat?
How often and how much beavers eat depends on the season, activity level, and size.
For example, if you are an athlete or gymnast, you tend to eat more than someone leading sedentary life.
You get a little extra space in your tummy during winters compared to summers, don’t you?
The same goes for beavers as well. A giant beaver will eat more than a tiny one. Likewise, if a beaver’s activity level is higher, it will consume more than a lazy one.
Beavers usually dine on foliage and twigs to get the energy for the day.
Research shows that they eat food weighing about 1.5- 2kg during summer. But during winter, they eat only about 0.9kg throughout the day.
10 facts about beavers
Here are some cool beaver facts you must know:
Did you know that beavers gnaw on the barks of trees until falling?
They will then clip on branches resulting in logs that will be to their stash of food.
2. Not all for the tummy
Beavers also eat fir, conifers, and pine. However, mind you; it’s not their favorite. They will use these trees for their dam building or fell them to let their favorite foods grow instead.
3. Beaver spotting
If you ever want to spot one of these, look for sharp pointy tree trunks with their marks and wood shaves around the tree trunks.
Fun fact, beavers have the ability to fall almost 300 trees within a year’s time!
5. Storing food
Winters are the busiest for the beavers. You know they store their food in the most fascinating way possible.
Since, in winter, they cannot access their favorite plants. Hence the storage.
Like you refrigerate your favorite dessert, even they make their muddy refrigerator with branches and sticks. This storage of food is known as a cache. It is used mostly during winter since the availability is sparse during the fall.
6. Eating style
These little creatures are just like you. They hold the food with their hands in the fronts, like you have your corn cobs.
7. Beavers love water
They will always be near water. Their tiny legs restrict their movement on land.
These rodents are excellent at moving to new places according to their suitability. If the food supply gets depleted in their existing lodge, they will find a new den.
9. Beaver dams
The dams that the beavers make can reach about 5m in height.
10. Hard-working animals
These rodents can happily spend all their time building and eating. They are also capable of digging canals to get water from water bodies.
What do beavers like to eat
Beavers are amazing creatures that are primarily found in North America. These rodents are famous for building lodges and dams in marine areas. But have you ever wondered why they are always into trees?
Well, they are into trees not only for their food but also for construction purposes.
Beavers love to eat a platter, with a variety that helps them get food throughout the year.
Below are a few of the food varieties that they love:
The soft inner bark of woody plants are beaver’s primary food source, particularly during the cold period between fall and spring. They prefer alder, aspen, birch, cottonwood, and willow bark among all the trees.
You will also see these rodents consume soft dead twigs whenever required.
Ferns and shrubs
You can also expect them to consume these during summer.
Most of the nutrients the beavers get are from the bark of the trees.
Though these animals do not like fish, you can feed them some aquatic plants. The most favorite ones are lilies and cattails.
Crops and Grass
These rodents also indulge in crop stems and leaves, especially beans and corn, which is a headache if you are growing around them.
Along with woody plants and trees, beavers also include some of the below soft vegetation:
- water lilies
- giant ragweed
- duck potatoes
Occasionally, you can also feed them mushrooms too. However, fencing could be an option if you are someone staying close to beavers and concerned about your property.
If you are worried about beavers eating your plants and trees, try planting some trees they do not like. This will work as a natural fence, and you will not have to worry further.
What do beavers not eat
By reading the above section, you know that beavers are vegetarians and do not prefer to eat fish and meat. However, they are pretty picky and do not consume all plants. You know their likes now, but let’s see their dislikes as well.
Beavers are picky; in most cases, beavers will not eat the trees they cut. Precisely, they prefer only some parts of the tree, like the soft inner bark of the cambium.
Beavers are known to like deciduous trees. However, do you know they will never eat oak and alder trees? These trees are only used for their construction purpose.
Likewise, some of the trees that they don’t prefer are as below:
- Ninebark bush
- Osoberry trees
- Twinberry trees
- Cascara trees
- Elderberry trees
Beavers are not great fans of berry plants. Try making them chew a few berries down if you ever meet one.
Remember when you have nothing to eat, and your go-to is bread and butter? For beavers’ conifers like hemlocks, fir, pine, and sitka, spruce is the last thing they would choose to eat.
Meat and fish
There’s no question of them eating meat and fish since they are hard-core herbivores. But if you have seen it in a TV show or cartoon, it isn’t real.
Lastly, beavers aren’t beggars. They will never eat your leftovers.
Digging from the trash can is never their style. So, if you ever get to feed a beaver, never give them leftovers. Now you know what do beavers eat and what not.
How do beavers survive
These rodents are mainly semiaquatic and nocturnal and are known for their building capabilities. They adapt smoothly to live on both water and land.
But how do they survive, and what do beavers eat under such circumstances? Let’s find out in the below explanation:
The broad, flattened tail of the beaver helps it in many ways, including communication. Like you have heaters during the cold, their tail helps them stay warm as it stores the fat there. They also use it as an alert by slapping their tails to startle any possible predators.
The beavers have an underfur fat layer that keeps them warm. They release castoreum oil, a water-repellent oil that helps to keep them underwater during the winter.
What do you think about how beavers eat their food? The beavers are well-known for the big buckteeth that help them get food and build shelter. Also, do you know that beaver’s teeth rapidly grow, but the gnawing makes them filed?
Underwater food access
How do you think that beavers get access to aquatic plants? Among all the other adaptations, beavers can stay underwater, which helps in their survival.
The clear eyelids protect its eyes to make them able to see underwater.
Do you know the best part? These rodents can close their ears and nostrils to keep the water out.
Their huge liver and lungs help them to store oxidized blood and conserve oxygen. This allows them to stay underwater for about 15 minutes. Don’t you envy them?
Some of the additional qualities that beavers have is the amazing ability to smell. This helps them to detect predators along with finding food.
Beaver types and their food habits
There are mainly two types of beavers you will ever see: the North American and the Eurasian. In the below points, you can figure out what beavers eat as per the type.
North American beavers
The North American beaver weighs about 16-30 kg on average. They are America’s largest rodent and they can even grow anything between 600-900 cm.
You can identify the North American beaver with its furry coat with a yellow-brownish and black hue. These beavers also have long incisors, which are dark orange and keep growing throughout their life.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate these beavers is their long flat black tail. Their tail helps them to balance themselves and use it as an alert.
The North American beavers are herbivorous. Their diet consists of woody stems, leaves, and aquatic plants. The favorite delicacies of these beavers are willow, birch, aspen trees, alder, maple, and poplar.
The Eurasian beaver
These beavers are also known as the European beaver. If you are from Great Britain or Europe, you must be familiar with these beavers. They were found huge in number earlier and mainly hunted for their castoreum and fur.
The Eurasian beavers weigh about 13-35kgs and grow between 73 and 135 cm. These beavers can be identified by their two layers of fur. If you look precisely, the undercoat is grey, and the outer part has long red-brown furs—their diet changes with the season.
During winter, they consume more willow, aspen, birch trees, and some woody plants. But they prefer shoots, twigs, leaves, roots, aquatic plants, and buds during summer. These creatures would love to live next to you if you have agricultural land and feed on your crops.
As we conclude this article, I hope it answers everything you wanted to know about beavers. Also, remember, never feed them meat or fish. They are strictly vegetarian.