IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Brief Summary

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Description

The largest North American rodent and the only one with a broad, flat, scaly tail, the Beaver is now common and widespread, even in areas it did not inhabit during pre-colonial times. The modifications it makes to the environment by felling trees and building dams result in changes to plant, animal, and microbial communities that are sometimes desirable and sometimes not. The Beaver itself is not easily seen, being nocturnal and secretive, but it can be spotted in ponds, lakes, or large streams at twilight by a quiet observer. Its pelage is brown, with gray underfur, and is prized by trappers. The webbing on its hind feet help it to swim; claws on the digits of its forefeet give it dexterity in handling food; comblike claws on its hind feet help it in careful grooming; and it can close its mouth behind its front teeth, so that it can carry woody material without taking in water. Beavers cache and consume the inner bark of both deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees, as well as terrestrial and aquatic plants. Their young, called kits, leave the colony at the age of six months.

Adaptation: The shape of the Beaver skull, and the rough texture of its bone, is evidence of a powerful set of chewing muscles. The groove-like depression at the back of the snout and the round one near the jaw joint are areas where large muscles attach. The ridge of bone that marks the curvature below the back angle of the mandible is another muscle attachment site.

Links:
Mammal Species of the World
Click here for The American Society of Mammalogists species account

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution

Source: Smithsonian's North American Mammals

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