Do Beavers Make Good Pets?

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Weren’t those two beavers in the Chronicles of Narnia able to talk absolutely endearing and cute? You probably must have also thought if you could pet them. Beavers are, after all, social rodents with cute beady eyes, a fluffy posture and a toothy face that can melt anybody. That is almost all that one needs to be wishing to pet them.

But can beavers be pets? We often hear of wild orphaned beavers who are usually taken up in the wildlife care centres, nursed back to health and left in the lap of nature. But can you keep a beaver as a pet? This is what we’ll discuss in the post and much more.

But, just to answer the question you so eagerly want the answer to, here are our two bits… 

Do beavers make good pets? The short answer

Keeping aside the fact that beavers are wild animals that are illegal to a pet in most states, they still do not make good pets, and for multiple reasons (which we’ll discuss further in the post). In short, beavers ate wild, dirty critters that can get pretty messy to handle since they defecate literally anywhere, and they chew a lot of wood which is unfortunate because every household has furniture. 

Although beavers are social and calm rodents, they are very territorial, and they can become very defensive when it comes to ruling their own place, and if you have pets, this can be a problem. Households with kids make for the worst homes for beavers because, although beavers may not be that dangerous, they can put their claws and teeth to nasty use.

To conclude, beavers are wild animals and have enough wild instincts to make them bad pets. 

Why don’t beavers make good pets?

Despite being illegal to a pet in many states and countries, here are a few reasons why beavers are not considered ideal pets and why you should be dropping the idea of having one at home.

1) Beavers are built for the wild

It’s a no brainer that beavers are wild animals, and that is exactly why they are built for the wild. Einstein, you cracked it!

They can not survive without water (not in the same way fishes need water); their living is dependent a lot on water. And since they are wild, it is hard to tame them and teach them where to defecate. This means they will defecate anywhere – in the pool, on the couch, and maybe on the bed.

They are dirty critters, and believe us – they STINK! In the wild, they have plenty of wood to chew on, but when you keep a beaver in your home, you need to compromise on your sofa legs, on the fence, and maybe even the door. Do you have hardwood flooring that cost you a fortune? Good luck having it turn into sawdust when you have a beaver as a pet. 

The point is beavers are super destructive, and if you do not keep them under constant invigilation, they will chew off every bit of wood they will find in your house. 

Every wild animal has a defence system, and for beavers, it is the teeth and the claws – they may look cute and all. But with their size and weight, they can deliver serious damage with both the teeth and the claws. 

The key takeaway here is – let a beaver stay where it belongs, and that is, in the wild. 

 

2) They are extremely territorial animals

Beavers are territorial animals, and they would do anything to protect their territory if they think there’s a danger hovering over it. Having said that, if you have pets that you let out in the open while having a beaver pet, you need to be very careful because if a beaver senses danger or threat to its territory, it can get very aggressive and probably claw or bite the other pet. 

Beavers can also be aggressive when they are confused or disoriented and generally attack during the day if they are intimidated by your presence.

Are beavers aggressive towards humans?

There is no such threat and significant evidence, but yes, beavers can be aggressive towards humans. Their long teeth and scary-looking claws can cause deep wounds, which is exactly what happened with a man in Belarus.

The report says that the man tried to take a picture with the beaver and the beaver bit hit multiple times, which led to the rupture of a major artery in his limb, and the man died due to severe blood loss. 

There have been multiple incidents where beavers, mostly the young ones, have known to attack people during the springtime because it is mostly the time when they are trying to mark their own territory, and they do not like an interruption. 

 

3) Beavers tend to gnaw and chew wood a lot

This is pretty much everything beavers are known for, and for a good reason. Beavers chew and gnaw a lot of wood because if they do not, it can prove fatal to them. The reason is that a beaver’s teeth keep growing throughout its lifetime. This means that they constantly need to chip their teeth away from letting them overgrow and eventually kill them. 

And what better to chip away their teeth than gnawing and chew at the wood!

As mentioned before, beavers are super destructive, which means they are potent in chewing the last bit of wood they find at your house. Since they primarily eat wood, they are likely to chew at the stands of chairs and couches. While they feed off on vegetables, too, if they can’t find enough of it, they will possibly gnaw at your door too. 

You either need to relocate to some remote location with lush greenery or bring in loads of wood (which is still not enough for beavers). 

If you’re thinking of keeping them away from wood, you’re doing them more harm than good, which is exactly why you can not be having a pet beaver at home. 

 

4) Beavers live close to the water

All beavers need water. No matter what location they live in. Generally, beavers build their home or lodge near freshwater lakes, ponds, swamps or other water bodies. However, if you’re thinking of getting the beaver a small pool in the backyard, the answer is it may not work out so well.

Beavers, as we’ve mentioned, defecate wherever they can, and a pool is no exception. Also, a beaver may not be able to get around living in the pool. However, when the pool is completely out of the equation, finding inferior alternatives like a tub or a dug-up hole isn’t going to work. 

A beaver usually builds its home or lodge on the banks of rivers, ponds, lakes and shores of other water bodies and can live with just enough comfort with an environment that has enough water. This is just not possible when you are petting a beaver, which is yet another reason why beavers don’t make good pets.

 

5) They are nocturnal animals

Beavers are nocturnal animals and sleep away during the day, hiding, to prevent predator attacks and possible encounters with humans. They sleep for about eleven hours and are only active during the day when they live in a location with absolute zilch human intervention during the day. 

When the night falls, beavers start all the hard work, which includes searching for food and building what they best build – dams and lodges. This means that you either have to adjust your sleep routine or get the beaver to do so if you are looking to bond with your pet.

The former is a tough nut to crack, and the latter might have a negative impact on the beaver’s health. Apart from that, 11 hours of beaver sleep means you barely will have time with your pet. Also, just when you’ll be about to go to bed, it will be morning for your beaver which translates to the fact that there will be a lot of noise and searching around.

 

6) They may be dangerous

Yes, beavers are docile, and friendly, and social, but this is not Narnia, and they are, after all, wild animals. Although there aren’t very significant reports on beaver attacks, they’re quite potent in delivering bad bites and injuries with their claws. 

They may be social and all, but when they get aggressive or are disturbed or intimated, they attack and deliver powerfully severe bites to anyone coming in their way. 

 

7) Beavers are social animals

Isolating a beaver from its colony and community is the worst that you can do. Beavers are very social rodents who live in groups, maintain monogamy throughout their lives and take care of their yearlings in their ‘sweet little lodge (home)’. 

Capturing a  beaver and separating it from its family and society for a whim to ‘pet’ it isn’t justifiable, and you should let the beaver stay in the wild for the best. 

 

Things you should know about beavers

Below we’ve listed a few important things that you should know about beavers and have given you insight into all you want to know about beavers, from what they eat to how they build dams. 

What do beavers eat?

Beavers are herbivores, and they feed mostly on soft vegetation and cambium of year trees. Though they live and spend a lot of time in the water, they don’t eat fish, and by eating the aquatic plants, they keep the environment clean, and both fishes and beavers live together peacefully in waters. 

Other than eating woody plants and trees, they also feed on vegetation, including apples, grapes, water lilies, clover, duck potatoes and watercress. If you are planning to keep a beaver as a pet, keep in mind that it is going to be a tough job, and you should know what they eat and the fact that their diet changes with the change of seasons of the year. 

During summer, a beaver’s diet contains only 10% of wood and cambium and considering the blooming of vegetables and aquatic plants during summer, which include – cattails, pondweeds, and water lilies beavers mostly feed on these. They also enjoy feasting on rhizomes, bulrush, etc. You wouldn’t find a beaver eating too much or even enough grass, shrubs or trees or wood during the summer. 

And in autumn and spring, they store food in the ‘beaver fridge’ where the vegetation is fresh throughout winters when the pond is covered with ice. Hence they don’t need to hibernate because the food is available underwater while their ponds are frozen over.

 

Where are beavers mostly active?

Although beavers are rodents, they are most active in the water. They may know their way around the land; beavers prefer to stay near lake shores, banks of ponds, rivers and water bodies that do not have fast-running streams.

Beavers can also live in swaps, but there has to be plenty of water for them to survive, which is why beavers stay far away from deserts and are almost absent in northern Canada. Their physical adaptations, such as webbed hind feet and a flat and broad paddle-like tail, allows them to be great at swimming. 

Beavers mostly build their lodges very close to the water and sometimes have an opening to give them direct access to water for swimming which proves the point that they are most active in the water. Their lodges also typically have underwater openings that lead to open water with.

 

How do beavers build dams?

Beavers build dams mainly to protect themselves from deadly predators. They don’t actually live in the dams; they build dams to deepen watercourses and build lodges where they live and store their food; it protects them from modern predators like bears, wildcats, and other mammalian forebears. 

Whenever they find shallow watercourses, they start building dams and creating canals along which they drag the branches and trucks to build the anti-predator structure. Every lodge has two or more underwater entrances so that the predators can’t break into them.

How do beavers build dams? 

The building process starts with collecting trunks and branches; they use their sharp chisel-like teeth and gnaw at the tree trunk, which falls on the flowing water blocking its way and creating a diversion. These branches are dragged through the canals that they had built for this purpose and taken to the dam’s site.

They even collect floating branches. While the tree acts as a wall, they use mud, stones and branches to make the dam watertight. Then they strengthen the structure by placing whatever they find – like stones, twigs and grass on top of the base of the structure. 

Their dams cannot be built in areas with fast, deep flowing rivers and streams because it might block underwater entrance by ice in winter. So they build dams in areas with shallow waters and sufficient depth from predators. The average height of the dams built by the beavers is 5 feet high, 330 feet in length and about 1-2 meters in depth.

 

What sounds do beavers make?

Beavers are quite vocal, and they can make distinct sounds like grunts, grumbles, and barks. They also whine like a baby, which is really cute. Whenever they find that there is danger or a threat around them, they slap on the water with their tail, and this makes a noise which is a signal of danger around them, and then they hide underwater for some time. 

They communicate with others by making sounds, and making noise is one of their most endearing qualities. Beavers also jump out of the water just like dolphins, and they make growling and hissing sounds prior to the attack.

 

Why should you let a beaver stay in the wild?

Beavers are so important in ecology that they are known as keystone species. What this means is, is that their very presence affects entire ecosystems. If beavers were removed from their environments, a chain reaction would take place, affecting every plant and animal in that space, and abiotic factors such as streamflow, erosion and water quality as well.

Beavers create habitats for many wetland species, and they help to aid water quality. Animals that benefit from beavers include frogs, salamanders, turtles, fish, ducks, otters, owls, insects and many other species. Their used trees also provide a nesting habitat for herons and other birds.

Beavers are a keystone species, and their presence affects the entire ecosystems where they are present. If beavers are removed from the ecosystems they live in, it can cause a chain reaction such as erosion, disrupted the flow of streams, and even the deterioration of water quality. Beavers play a huge role in aiding the water quality while also creating important geographical features such as habitats for myriad aquatic animals and dozens of wetland species. 

These cute, toothy critters play a very critical role in keeping up the structural ecological community, not just by purifying water, building dams and habitats but also by enriching the soil with nutrients and sediments. 

Now that you know why beavers are so important for nature and the ecosystem they live in, getting one as a pet isn’t just a loss for nature but also us because, without beavers, there can be multiple chain reactions and abiotic factors are happening at the same time. 

 

Do beavers hibernate?

No, beavers don’t hibernate, and they are active throughout winter. Beavers are well adapted to survive in a cold environment, and their waterproof coat also helps them. They have some other adaptations like webbed feet for swimming; their nostrils get closed underwater, a transparent third eyelid that protects their eyes and their tail that can regulate heat and store fat. The coarse hairs of their coat guard the surface, and the thick layer of fine hairs which meshed together help in keeping water out. 

They comb their coat with their paws using an oily substance that they secrete, and this makes their coat clean and waterproof. During winter or cold seasons, their coat gets thicker. It has been proved with significant evidence that on moving towards the north, the beaver’s fur gets thicker. 

 

How big do Beavers get?

Among other rodents like rats and mice, beavers are huge, and they are the largest rodents in North America. What about South America? In that case, beavers are beaten slightly by the capybaras in terms of size. The interesting fact about beavers is that they keep growing throughout their life, just like their teeth, and there is not much difference between the height and weight of fully-grown male and female beavers. 

Usually, a beaver grows to a length of 25-39 inches, and a healthy beaver weighs between 25-70 lbs; their average weight is 55lbs. Their tail is generally 7-14 inches long and has a significant contribution in their length and weight.

How Big Are Beaver Kits?

Baby beavers or newborn beavers are known as kits or beaver kits. Kits are really tiny when they are born, which makes them very vulnerable to predators in their ecosystems. Generally, a beaver kit at birth weighs only 22 ounces or 1 lb and is only seven inches long. 

 

FAQs

Do Beavers eat fish?

Beavers do not eat fish because beavers are herbivores, and they feed on leaves, roots, tubers, greens and cambium. Other than eating and chewing willow, and cottonwood they also eat tule roots, blackberry vines, fennel, pondweed and other types of scrub plants. 

What do Beavers weigh?

A healthy beaver of the average size, either in captivity or in the wild, weighs anywhere between 25 lbs – 70 lbs. The average weight of a beaver is 55 lbs, the heaviest beaver weighing around 70 lbs or slightly more. When beaver kits or infants are born, they weigh as little as 1 lb or 8 to 22 ounces as per ADW. 

Do Beavers get splinters?

Yes, they do get splinters, but they don’t complain about them. Although they have got sharp and strong teeth, beavers occasionally get splinters in their gums and in other body parts. By chewing wood, they actually keep their teeth from overgrowing and injuring their jaws. 

Can tamed Beavers build dams?

You will be surprised to know that not all beavers build dams. Therefore, it is not about wild beavers or the tamed ones; the willingness of a beaver to build a dam depends on factors like predators in the area, watercourse, etc. However, if we are to answer the question, then yes, tamed beavers can build dams; it is, after all, why they are referred to as nature’s engineers and have natural genetic instincts to have dams to protect themselves.

What is the lifespan of a beaver?

Beavers have an average lifespan of 16-25 years in the wild. They have several natural predators, including coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and American black bears in the wild. Hence it’s difficult for them to survive for a longer time. Many of them get killed by being crushed or killed by the trees that fell on them or get trapped and drowned while building their dams and lodges.

 

Sources

  1. Facts About Beavers
  2. What to do about beavers

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