The Beaver. The Animals of British Columbia, Canada - BC Adventure Network


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide

Beaver
Castor canadensis

Description - This very large, dark brown rodent has a black, scaly tail which is horizontally flattened and paddle shaped and used as a rudder while swimming , as a sturdy support on land and for balance when the beaver carries heavy tree branches or building materials in its front paws. The back feet are large, webbed and black; the eyes and ears small; incisors are very large and chestnut coloured. Average weight is 45-60 pounds but they have been recorded at up to 110 pounds.

Distribution - The beaver occurs throughout most of Canada and all of British Columbia in rivers, streams, marshes, lakes and ponds.

Biology - The beaver builds its lodge out of intertangled twigs and sticks; as freezing weather nears they plaster the lodge with mud making a concrete layer that no predator can break through. Predators include coyotes, wolves, bears, lynx, and wolverines; mink, hawks and owls will also take some kits.In late April to early July 3-4 kits are born. The beaver is highly adapted to its aquatic life with webbed hindfeet, the rudder-like tail, valves that close off the ears and nostrils, skin flaps that seal off the mouth but leave the incisors free for underwater gnawing and carrying and clear membranes that slide over the eyes protecting them from floating debris. During the early nineteenth century the beaver pelt was the single most valuable commodity; the pelt being used for robes, coats, clothing trims, and top hats. Nowadays the pelt is still highly valued, the flesh and sometimes,the tail are considered tasty but the beaver is now protected from over- trapping.

Beaver Tracks

Tracks - A perfect beaver track is rare as the tail drags and will often cover the print. The hind foot is large, triangular-shaped, webbed and has five toes. The forefoot is much smaller with five toes although all are seldom evident. During the winter the beaver's trail is often mistaken for that of a porcupine or otter because of the trough created by the beaver's trail. A closer examination of the track will generally show a portion of a print.

Straddle: 15 - 20 cm (6 - 8 in)
Stride: 10 - 15 cm (4 - 6 in)
Track: Front - 8 cm (3.2 in) long / 7 cm (2.8 in) wide
Track: Rear - 15 cm (5 in) long / 12 cm (4.8 in) wide


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The Beaver. The Animals of British Columbia, Canada - BC Adventure Network