Busy builders

Beavers are large rodents well known for their skills at building dams and impregnable lodges. Their dams change landscapes by raising water levels, providing new habitat for many plants and animals.

There are more than 100 colonies of beavers in Yellowstone National Park. Peaceful, social beavers are safe in the water where they can dive to safety at the warning slap of a tail. Sometimes beavers are preyed on by patient predators if they can catch them by surprise on land.

Beaver, Lamar River

photo credit: NPS-Neal Herbert

Quick Facts

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Beavers are found in and near water. When possible, they build dams from sticks and mud to create ponds. They live in lodges or in riverbank dens in small family groups. Beavers stay close to water for safety but venture onto land for food and building materials. They have poor eyesight but good hearing. They slap their tails in alarm which alerts the colony to danger. Beavers are excellent swimmers can stay underwater for 15 minutes (much longer if they are actually in their lodge).

SIZE: 46-56 kg (24-71 lbs)

SPEED: Awkward on land, but can scurry back to nearby water. Swim up to 8 kph (5 mph).

DIET: Herbivores: prefer willow, aspen, and cottonwood.

Beavers in WolfQuest

Beavers live along waterways, using aspen trees and willow bushes for food and construction materials. A beaver colony has a lodge home and many build a dam, which creates a beaver pond to keep the colony safe.

If you are close to a beaver lodge, you may hear beaver kit noises and movements within.

Beavers are most active at dawn and dusk, so look for them at those times.

Wolves won’t be able to catch a swimming beaver but you might have success surprising one on land. Ambush hunting a beaver requires patience, some planning, and a good deal of luck. Beaver teeth are sharp and do real damage when the beaver fights back. It'll be a race to kill the beaver before it can reach the safety of water.