Virginia.gov

beaver (Castor canadensis)

Photos

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is a heavily built animal, with short legs, a horizontally flattened and scaly tail , and webbed hind feet . The fur is glossy dark brown above, with lighter under parts, and the tail becomes lighter with age. The eyes are small, and the front feet have strong claws adapted for digging and grasping tree limbs. Average sizes are as follows: total length=3-4 feet, weight= 30-75 pounds. They have one litter/year of 1-6 (average 3-5) young are born April-June. . This species is monogamous. The fundamental unit of population is a colony of 4-8 related individuals with a home range size of 8 acres. This species is primarily nocturnal. When possible beavers construct dams to form ponds in which they build their lodge. Water, and the availability of food (especially aspen trees) are important determinants of habitat suitability. They live an average of 6-11 years in wild.

Distribution

This subspecies is found in the northern piedmont, mountains, and coastal plain of Virginia. They prefer lower, less rocky portions of streams to headwaters with steep gradients and rocky bottoms.

Foods

This species consumes primarily herbaceous vegetation in the spring and summer and bark and small twigs from cache in winter. It stores branches and logs underwater near the lodge for winter, sometimes under ice, but will go ashore to cut fresh trees as long as it can break the ice at the edge of their pond.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).