North American beaver

LIVING HABITS

Beavers live around water. In addition to water, their habitat requirements include broad-leaved trees that grow by the waterline, their main source of food. Beavers eat leaves and bark of the tree as well as water plants. Beavers cut down even larger trees, and use them for building dams. Dams make the surface of their home pond rise. Their nests are also made of branches and tree trunks. The nest is sturdily built, and the nest opening is located underwater so that predators cannot invade the nest easily. Beavers are night-active animals that live in family colonies. Usually, a colony consists of parents and their offspring from a two-year period.


There are two different beaver species in Finland. American beavers breed mainly in the central and eastern parts of Finland, in addition beavers are also found in Päijät-Häme regions and in Lapland. European beavers can be found only in the regions of Satakunta. From the about 12 000 beavers in Finland, only a fraction, about 2000, represent the original European beaver.

PROTECTION

Beavers were hunted to extinction in the end of the 1800’s in Finland. In the 1930’s beavers were introduced back to Finland from both Norway (the European beaver), and from Northern America (the American beaver). The beaver is a game animal. For the hunting of the rare European beavers, one needs a special permit from the appropriate game keeping district in Finland.

ADAPTING TO THE WINTER

Beavers store branches and tree trunks in their home pond in the autumn in order to fetch nutritional addition while staying in the nest over the winter. As the opening of the nest is located underwater, the beaver needs not to bother wading in the snow with its short feet, exposed to predators while searching for nutrition.

North American beaver

Castor canadensis

CLASS:

ORDER:

FAMILY:

SIZE: Weight: 12-33kg, length 65-105cm + length of tail 22-38cm, males and females the same size, sometimes females may be larger than males.

BREEDING: Monogamous. Heat: January-February, gestation period 3,5 months, offspring 3-4 at a time. Independent in 2 years, sexual maturity in 1,5 years.

LIFESPAN: 30 years

Did you know that the American beaver transforms its habitat greatly with its constructions? The dams it builds causes the water to rise on the shore, this furthermore causing the suffocation of the roots of the trees, and especially the dying of the spruce. The coastland forest turns into a water eco-system. When the beaver leaves the area, the water-level descends, and the coastland eco-system develops into a forest again.