The beaver is Canada’s largest rodent. On average, it can grow to weigh between 16 to 32 kg and measure 60 to 80 cm in length. The beaver has a thick-set body covered with dark, reddish brown fur. They have small front paws and large hind webbed feet. Beavers have a horizontally flattened and paddle-shaped black tail, which has a scaly texture.

Image of two beavers by a body of water

Behaviour

Beaver residences can be in a lodge or on the banks of creeks and ponds. Creek beavers will dam up running water and create beaver ponds. These ponds are an important habitat for wildlife, creating an increased area available for more habitats and feeding areas. Beaver ponds also assist in stabilizing water tables and help prevent rapid water run-off.

The beaver's habitat not only protects it from predators, but also the winter elements. Creating deep enough water so the beaver can travel under the ice to food plots and surface holes is very important for its winter survival.

Because of this instinct to back up water, the beaver can cause problems for humans. Flooding of crops, industrial property and residential land may occur as a result of beaver dams.

Beavers can be very territorial with other beavers and may fight to protect their pond. Although they will not purposely approach a human, if they feel threatened or trapped it may result in an aggressive attack. If they are threatened in the water, they will slap their tail warning other beavers of danger, before diving under the water. If cornered on land, the beaver may hiss, lunge and use intimidation to frighten off the aggressor.

After a three-month gestation period, the beaver will have four to eight young between April and June. The kits will spend the next two years with the mother, learning from the adults and babysitting next year's offspring. After two years, the juvenile beavers are expelled from the colony and migrate in search of a mate and suitable habitat.

Coexistence strategies

Managing beavers can be difficult. However, there are some ways you can prevent issues and even coexist with beavers.

  • If flooding is the concern, releasing small amounts of water from the dam may resolve the issue.
  • If damming within a culvert is the concern, installing a metal grate that extends off the culvert into the creek will increase the area in which the beaver must dam.
  • If logging is the concern, protecting the trees by wrapping chicken wire or galvanized steel around the base of each tree to a height of one metre will stop further tree damage.

If the issue persists, removing the beavers by trapping or shooting may be required. Professionals withing Agriculture and Environment may be able to assist with the removal of beavers and the breaching of dams when flooding is a concern.

Beavers can pose challenges when it comes to ensuring infrastructure is able to function as it is intended. Areas like our stormwater management facilities need to be able to flow and drain properly to ensure that the water collected from the manholes and catch basins after a storm are able to gradually return to the natural drainage system. It is critical that the stormwater management facilities are not blocked or dammed to prevent possible flooding of the surrounding neighbourhood. In these cases, beavers would be removed from these facilities and any damming materials removed. For more information regarding our stormwater management facilities, please visit our webpage

Further information:

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Last updated: Thursday, February 15, 2024
Page ID: 38903