Beaver

Beaver ©Nick Upton

(C) David Parkyn

©David Parkyn

Beaver eating

Beaver ©David Parkyn

Beaver swimming

Beaver ©David Parkyn

Beaver

Scientific name: Castor fiber
Beavers are the engineers of the animal world; if their home isn’t quite up to scratch they have no problem doing some home improvements! These incredible animals are perfectly adapted for life on both land and in the water – they have an impressive flat tail and webbed feet.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 70-100cm
Tail: 30-40cm
Weight: 18-30kg
Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Conservation status

Beavers are being re-introduced into different parts of Great Britain after an absence of about 400 years.

When to see

Active January to December but easiest to see in daylight between May and September.

About

Beavers are Britain’s largest rodent, belonging to the same group as rats, mice and voles. Thanks to their flat tail and webbed feet these amazing animals are suited to life both on land and in the water. These clever engineers will build dams to give themselves access to deep pools of water and transform their surroundings by cutting down small trees for food and for building supplies. Afterall, no beaver home is complete without their very own private swimming pool. Beavers live with their family, usually around five individuals which includes adults, kits and yearlings. Beavers sleep throughout the day, preferring to come out during sunrise and sunset.

How to identify

As large as a Labrador dog, but with shorter legs, the European beaver is robust and heavily built. Two distinctive features are a broad, flat tail, covered with scales, and webbed feet. It has small eyes and ears, and light brown fur.

Distribution

Small numbers reintroduced to locations in England, Wales and Scotland from mainland Europe.

Did you know?

European beavers make dams so that they can move about and feed in safety. They also like the entrance to their burrow to be submerged, so where they don’t have deep water, they can create it. In larger rivers and lakes, they don’t need to build dams. The work they do, coppicing trees and building dams, creates wetland habitats that benefit an enormous number of other species from water voles to amphibians, dragonflies to birds. Beavers also have a third, transparent eyelid (called a nictitating membrane) that protects their eyes as they swim underwater.

How people can help

You can help by supporting beaver reintroduction trials being run by The Wildlife Trusts. Visit the websites of the Scottish Beaver Trial, Devon Wildlife Trust's Beaver Project, Cornwall Wildlife Trust Beaver Project and the Welsh Beaver Project to find out more.