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Beaver Swimming Facts: Can They Swim & How?

Beavers are great swimmers as they have webbed feet that they use like fins, and large tails they use to steer. They swim up to five miles per hour. As younglings, they are able to swim within 24 hours of being born.

If you’re a fan of animals, or in particular, beavers, you’ll love learning about some of the interesting facts about their swimming habits. 

Beavers are known for being excellent swimmers and are often times able to stay submerged under water for extended periods of time.

But how do they swim? And why are they good at it?

Beaver Swimming Facts: An Overview

Beavers are often referred to as “nature’s engineers” because of their ability to build dams and lodges. They build these in lakes and rivers and access them by water, which is where their swimming abilities come in handy.

Beavers are built for swimming.

They have long, flat tails that help them steer in the water[1], and webbed feet that work like paddles to help them move through the water. 

In addition, beavers have a layer of fur that keeps them warm and dry even when they’re swimming in cold water.

All of these adaptations make beavers excellent swimmers. Here are a few other interesting facts that you might want to know:

Swimming Speed5 miles per hour
Maximum Time Submerged5 to 15 minutes
HabitatPonds, lakes, rivers, marshes, streams, and adjacent wetland areas

How Do Beavers Swim?

Beavers swim with their webbed feet which work like paddles. They also use their tails as a rudder and tuck their legs up close to their bodies to glide through the water smoother. 

When beavers are swimming, they often tuck their legs up close to their bodies and use their feet to propel themselves through the water.[2]

Some people claim it makes them look a bit like torpedoes.

They also have rough hairs, covered in a special oil that beavers secrete. They cover their fur in this oil, making them water repellant, which further enhances their streamlined build.

How Do Beavers Swim

Can Beavers Breathe Underwater?

No, beavers cannot breathe underwater. They are mammals, and like all mammals, they need to surface regularly to breathe air. But, beavers can hold their breath for a significant amount of time. 

This allows them to stay submerged for long periods of time while they build their beaver dams and homes.

When Do Beavers Learn to Swim?

Beavers know how to swim by instinct. It only takes them 1-3 days after birth to have their first swim, and they’re still considered baby beavers at this point.

How Far Can Beavers Swim?

Beavers are excellent swimmers and can cover a lot of ground in the water. While it’s unknown exactly how far they can swim, they can at least cover several miles.

Beavers don’t usually swim that far because they don’t need to. 

They typically only swim when they are looking for a new place to build their dam or lodge, find food, or when they are trying to escape from predators. 

When beavers are swimming around for fun, they tend to stick close to the shoreline where they feel safer.

How Fast Can Beavers Swim?

Beavers can swim at speeds of up to five miles an hour. This is impressive considering their size and the fact that they are semi-aquatic creatures.

Beavers are strong swimmers and can even swim upstream, but they are not the fastest animals in the water.

Most beavers swim at a pace of around five miles per hour, which is enough to escape most predators.

If you ever find yourself near a body of water with beavers, it is best to stay away from them. Beavers can become aggressive if they feel threatened, and they have been known to attack humans. 

If you are ever attacked by a beaver, the best thing to do is to try to get away from the water as quickly as possible. Beavers can cause injuries with their sharp teeth.

Related: How Fast Are Beavers?

How Fast Can Beavers Swim

How Long Can a Beavers Hold Their Breath?

Beavers can stay underwater for up to 5-6 minutes, with 15 minutes being the limit. They are known to hold their breath for this long to escape from predators or to avoid being detected while searching for food.

When beavers are diving, their heartbeat slows down and blood is redirected away from their extremities in order to keep their vital organs functioning. 

This physiological response allows them to stay submerged for extended periods of time, up to 15 minutes.

When Do Beavers Swim?

Beavers are known for their love of water, but they don’t just swim for fun. Swimming is an important part of a beaver’s life, as they use it for survival. They find food, escape from predators, and cool off in the water.

To Find Food

Beavers Swim To Find Food

Beavers are herbivores, meaning they eat plants. One of their most common food sources is aquatic plants, which they find by diving into the water.

To Escape Predators

Beavers fall prey to many predators, such as coyotes, foxes, and bears. If a beaver sees a predator approaching, it will create a loud splash and will often dive into the water to escape.[3]

To Cool Off

Beavers Swim To Cool Off

Beavers are very sensitive to heat, and they overheat easily. When the temperature starts to rise, beavers will often take a swim to cool down.

To Travel

Beavers are excellent swimmers, and they use swimming as a way to get from one place to another. 

If a beaver wants to cross a river or lake, it will swim across instead of walking around.

To Build Dams

Beavers Swim To Build Dams

Beavers are famous for their dam-building abilities. When building a dam, beavers will often use their tails as a paddle to help them swim back and forth to carry sticks and mud.

To Clean Their Fur

Beavers have very thick fur coats, which can get dirty easily. They sometimes take a swim to clean their fur and keep it in good condition.

Do All Beavers Swim?

All beavers are born with a natural ability to swim. They know how to swim when they are born, able to dive into the water within days (sometimes less than a day). The only beavers that can’t swim are sick or injured ones.

While all beavers are able to swim, they are not in the water all the time. 

Some beavers stay on land, where they can build their homes and dams. Others only enter the water when they are looking for food or transporting building materials.

There are exceptions to the rule, such as if a beaver is sick or injured. If their tail is broken, they won’t be able to steer in the water. Or if they are weak due to disease, they may not have to energy to swim.

Can Beavers Drown?

No, beavers cannot drown. They float and are that way physically incapable of drowning. Unless an external force is pushing them down, or if they are knocked out, they will always stay on top.


Beavers are excellent swimmers and can stay submerged underwater for up to 15 minutes. They use their webbed hind feet to paddle through the water and their flat tail to steer.

They use their swimming abilities to find food and build dams.

Beaver dams play an important role in regulating local water levels and providing habitats for other animals.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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