Beavers

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 homes 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 go after a human, making them feel threatened or trapped could 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 six young between April and June. The kits will spend the next two years with the mother, learning 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 residence.

Management

Managing beavers can be difficult. However, there are some ways you can try to prevent beaver problems:

  • If flooding is the concern, releasing small amounts of water from the dam may resolve the issue.
  • If the beaver is damming up a culvert, try a mesh guard. The guard should extend off the culvert to increase the area in which the beaver must dam.
  • If logging is the concern, protect the trees by wrapping chicken wire or galvanized steel around the base of each tree to a height of one metre.

If the issue persists, removing the beavers by trapping or shooting may be required. Agriculture Services assists with the removal of beavers and the breaching of dams when flooding is a concern.

Further information:

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Last updated: Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Page ID: 38903