The beaver is famous for being the ‘builder’ of the animal world. Using its extra-strong, self-sharpening front teeth, the beaver can cut down trees and harvest branches. With these it constructs dams and homes which are known as ‘lodges’.
The North American beaver is the largest rodent in North America. It grows to over 1m (3.3 ft.) in length and up to 32 kg (70.5lb) in weight; some individuals grow even larger still.
The beaver’s coat is dark brown. The coat has two layers: a thick, protective outer layer, and a thin, insulating inner layer. Glands in the beaver’s skin produce an oily substance that keeps the coat waterproof.
The beaver’s large scaly tail is used for steering and propulsion when in the water. The beaver also slaps its tail on the surface of the water to alert others of danger.
The beaver has webbed hind feet for swimming. Its smaller, unwebbed front paws are used for digging, and for holding objects and food.
When diving, the beaver closes its nose and ears with waterproof flaps. It protects its eyes with special transparent eyelids which allow the beaver to see where it is swimming.
The beaver is a herbivore (plant-eater). Its diet consists of buds, leaves, bark, roots, water lilies and woody shrubs.
During the autumn, beavers build up a store of branches that provide food during the winter.