Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County
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Beaver Signs

Beaver Damage on a TreeThe beaver (Castor canadensis) is the largest rodent in North America. Adults weigh 40-60 pounds or more. They are industrious, curious and social.

Beaver are nocturnal (active after dark). During fall, the beaver actively cut trees and shrubs to store food for the winter. This food is kept under the ice and is important for the survival of the beaver colony.

Beavers are vegetarians. They eat woody plants during the fall and winter. In spring, beaver switch to green and leafy vegetation.

Signs of beaver include cuttings from trees that produce wood chips. Beavers also shave off tree bark (photo right).

When a beaver cuts a tree, it starts by gnawing a notch at a spot on the tree that is high but still easy to reach. Then, the beaver goes to the other side of the tree and gnaws another mark a few inches below the first mark. These marks are how the beaver controls where the tree falls. The beaver keeps chewing the bark and wood away from between the two notches until the tree falls.

Beaver Skull - photo by S. CochranThe large front incisors of beaver grow continually throughout its life (see incisors on the beaver skull at the right). These incisors are continuously sharpened as they cut and girdle trees.

Learn more about Beavers:


Did you miss a Can You Guess It?? Find past photos and resources here.

Guess the photo - Click hereThis Can You Guess It?? photo is featured in the November 2004 NEBLINE Newsletter. Find the Answer HERE.

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