One might say that beavers are not very popular animals. However they truly are infamous creatures, considering how often they are used in many of our childhood cartoons.
Artists usually display them as animals that are building considerable wooden barriers. If you have ever seen a natural beaver, it means you have been fortunate, as these adorable creatures are mostly hiding when they are in nature. As such, they are present in almost any zoo garden.
Facts About Beavers
Beavers belong to the Castor family and to the semiaquatic rodent family. The categories of beavers are just so:
- The North American beavers
- The Eurasian Beavers
Beavers are solid and impressive furry animals, the second largest rodents in the animal world. The adult beavers can even weigh somewhere around 40 pounds. These animals can be even 3 feet long.
Beavers are mighty animals that are building impressive wooden dams in the water. They do this to protect themselves from possible predators and to catch other floating foods and materials that might be helpful for them.
Did you know? Beavers secrete something like a brown slime that smells delicious, just like vanilla.
You simply didn’t expect that, right?
Here are some glimpses over the beavers and what they eat daily to stay healthy. But first of all, let’s better understand how these animals procure their food.
How Do Beavers Gather Their Food?
Just like humans do, beavers will do everything they can and use their whole energy to cut trees and build homes with that wood.
Considering beavers do not have the necessary features to climb trees, they will decrease the food. They are gnawing on trees, using their large teeth until the tree falls. As such, they will have access to everything they want to eat.
Is it like they feast from a full salad bar? Beavers will also eat from the bark in the trees and the softwood they find right under the bark. However, beavers are not eating the wood, but they are using parts of the dead trees to build barrages and catch other pieces of vegetation. They will gather all this vegetation by dams and store them in their lodges.
How Do Beavers Eat?
If you had the patience to watch a beaver eating, for example, a twig, they would hold it like a bit of a piece of corn-on-the-cob.
They will look carefully and patiently noble and turn it all around. Like humans, they will chew the food with their mouths closed, while their big teeth will stick out.
What Do Beavers Eat?
Beavers are natural herbivores that only eat pieces of vegetation and plants. They would mostly enjoy the inner bark of the trees they are putting down, along with their delicious leaves and barks.
They can also eat apples, twigs, even shrubs. Considering how much time beavers spend in the water, they will also satisfy their appetite with aquatic plants, like cattails, lilies, or pondweed.
Here is the complete list of beavers favorite foods:
- Birch trees
- Inner bark
- Alder trees
- Willow trees
- Cottonwood trees
And now, let’s explain more about some of their ailments:
- Inner bark
The inner back is the primary food source for beavers. This part is the softest one from the woody plants. The beavers are always eager to eat bark, especially during the colder months, meaning fall to spring.
Their diet will consist of bark. Beavers will look for Aspen trees, as these are their favorite food types. Beavers will also consume inner bark from other woody plants, like willow, cottonwood, or birch.
While the bark is the most common and favorite food for beavers, they would prefer leaves of woody plants. The juicy leaves are a great source, especially during the cold months and during summertime.
10% of a beaver’s bark intake will drop during these months. Beavers will eat all kinds of plant leaves from different trees, including alder, aspen, cottonwood, and many more.
Beavers do not prefer to consume pieces from the bark of trees. They will eat soft, even the dead twigs from the woody trees. The beavers will be consuming birch, willow, cottonwood, even aspen twigs.
- Shrubs and Ferns
During the summer days, beavers would prefer consuming ferns and shrubs rather than wintertime. These animals will start chewing the twigs and leaves from lots of plants.
- Aquatic plants
Beavers spend a lot of time hunting and collecting plants in the water. Furthermore, these cute creatures can swim for 10 minutes at a time. They will stand in canals and rivers most of the time, searching for different foods growing right underneath the water’s surface.
Considering that, beavers will enjoy themselves with aquatic plants too. Beavers love to eat many aquatic plants, like cattails and lilies. If they can find some roots, beavers will be even happier with water plants.
- Grass and crops
I told you beavers are pretty versatile when picking their foods. As such, these animals will also consume various grass types, even target crops, just like beans or corn.
They simply enjoy chewing the leaves, roots, and stems of grass. Their love for grass types will also encourage them to build their lodges close to canals, lakes, dams, and rivers. Interesting, isn’t it?
A Beaver’s Diet Variations
Now, besides the previously mentioned foods, it is essential to understand a beaver’s behavior better when procuring their diet. Beavers do not mainly go for coniferous, like pine and fir. However, they won’t say no to these trees if food is scarce.
Scientists have watched these animals’ behavior and noticed how beavers were targeting and eating these types of trees, so there will be enough room for the growth of their favorite plants instead. For instance, beavers would like to consume mushrooms and tree stems or grassy regions.
How Are Beavers Dealing With Food During Winter Days?
Beavers are brilliant animals. It is pretty impressive how these creatures find food during the cold months. What they do is store the food for winter. And here is what they do: they create these lodges on the water, and they spend most winter days in their shelters.
So right before the fall, when water is at the freezing point, they will line the bottom of the lodge using some fresh tree branches. As soon as the temperatures are shallow, the water will also be freezing over the top of these branches.
The best part? When they cannot find something to eat in winter, the beavers will keep their breath, swim out of the lodge and go under the ice to reach these branches. It’s like the freezing floor is a unique pantry.
Aspen Tree – beavers’ favorite meal
Aspen trees are a beaver’s favorite food. As such, these animals would prefer to make their lodges close to these trees as they grow in locations where there is at least one water source. Although they prefer Aspen trees, beavers will be happy with cottonwood, alder, birch, or willow too.
As I have mentioned before, beavers are the least happy with coniferous trees. But if these are their last source of food, they will scarce and digest the coniferous branches as well.
What About Baby Beavers? Can They Eat Leaves And Trees?
They can hardly adapt to an adult’s diet. Like any other mammals, the babies will start growing and developing by eating their mother’s milk.
For the first six weeks, the baby beavers will only eat milk, and after this period, they will begin to add other foods to their diet. They will start with leaves, bark, and inner bark.
During the first weeks of their lives, babies will receive food from the other family members until they grow enough to venture out.
How Can People Feed Beavers?
Although they seem cute and fluffy, you should know that beavers can be a bit dangerous if you get too close to them. These animals have been favored to become highly aggressive when they are around their lodges.
As such, they will do everything they can to protect their home, their shelter, and their territory. Moreover, they can even attack to defend what is theirs and become confused or afraid.
People should also be aware that beavers can carry terrible diseases, like rabies. So you don’t want a beaver’s bite.
Considering all these, staying safe during the feeding act would be wise. Beavers are wild animals, after all, so people should respect that.
If you still want to care for beavers from a distance, be careful and never treat their territory. Take the plants you want to give them and set out the food somewhere far from their lodges.
They will feel the food immediately and come to the spot. After that, enjoy yourself by watching them eating from a distance. Once beavers get used to the feeding times, they might become quite friendly. But don’t fool yourself, as the previous advice is still available.
Experts would recommend not offering food too regularly. These animals need to know how to search for food. Otherwise, they will grow fond of what people are feeding them with. Beavers are meant to forage for food; it is in their DNA.
Offer them food at irregular times. This habit will help them stay healthy and ensure they won’t grow based on human intervention.
Beavers In National Parks
However, in different parks, beavers are offered food regularly, only to conserve some particular or protected trees in the area. Because of their chewing habit, beavers can become quite destructive to natural plants.
There are many areas worldwide where people have covered the mesh fences to keep the beavers away. Once these people offer beaver food on regular hours, they will prevent the potential tree damage.
Like many other rodents, Beavers have an excellent appetite for food. These creatures do not hibernate during the wintertime, so they will permanently look for plants, roots, tree branches, and leaves.
Considering they are not creating fat reserves, beavers will consume quite the same amount of food during all the months. We hope you know more about these lovely animals by reading this article, and you will appreciate their intelligence and surviving spirit more.