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Do Beavers Eat Wood? (Wood Chewing Behavior In Beavers)

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Beavers do not eat wood. While they do chew on the trees to fell them, they use the wood to build lodges and damns, not for food. They eat the soft, inner bark outside the wood for food though.

Beavers are known for their wood-cutting and chewing abilities. But it’s a common tale that they eat the wood they cut down.

In this article, we’ll talk about this myth. About whether beavers really do eat wood, or what else they do with it.

We’ll also cover what else beavers eat.

Do Beavers Eat Wood?

No, beavers do not eat wood. They chew through it to cut down the trees, which they then use to build damns and lodges. They also gnaw on trees to file down their teeth, which grow continuously.

One of the most common questions about beavers is whether or not they actually eat wood. After all, their teeth are sharp and perfectly designed for gnawing through tree trunks. 

But, this is merely a common myth. Beavers don’t eat wood. They chew on it to cut down the trees, which they then use for other matters.[1]

Beavers use their teeth to fell trees and then strip the bark off in order to build their dams and lodges. The wood itself is not nutritious, so it’s not something that beavers want to eat even if they could.

Chewing on wood is also how they sharpen their teeth and keep them clean. It also helps them to build their dams and lodges. The wood that they chew is eventually broken down and used as part of those structures.

Related: Do Beavers Eat Fish?

beavers eat wood

Why Do Beavers Not Eat Wood?

The reason that beavers don’t eat wood is that it is very difficult to digest. Wood is made up of cellulose and lignin, which are complex carbohydrates that the beaver’s digestive system cannot break down. 

Beavers can extract some nutrients from wood, but not enough to make it worth their while. It is much easier for them to digest the other parts of trees, which is why they focus on those.

What Do Beavers Eat?

Beavers are herbivores, so their diet consists of plants. In the wild, their favorite food is bark, which they strip off of trees using their sharp teeth. They also eat leaves, twigs, and other vegetation.

They do also enjoy fruits and nuts when they are available.

When beavers fell a tree, they will first munch on the bark and cambium layer all around the trunk. This can girdle and kill the tree. The beaver then eats the leaves, branches, and twigs.[2]

The wood itself is not a part of their diet.

In the fall, they store up their lodges with as much food as possible, mostly roots, leaves, and twigs, and these can be stored in the cold.

Do Beavers Eat Meat?

Beavers are strictly herbivores, which means that they only eat plant matter. They do not eat meat of any kind. Their diet consists mostly of the bark and cambium layer of trees, as well as leaves, aquatic plants, and roots. 

Do Beavers Eat Meat

Why Do Beavers Chew Wood?

Beavers chew on wood for two reasons: to fell trees that they use to build damns and lodges and to grind their teeth down.

Beavers are well-known for their wood-chewing habits. But why do they do it? 

Some people think that beavers chew wood to eat it, but that’s not actually the case. Beavers only eat tree bark. They don’t eat the wood itself.

There are two main reasons why beavers chew wood:

The first is to create their homes, which are called lodges[3]

Beavers build their lodges out of sticks and logs, and they use their sharp teeth to gnaw the wood and make it into the right shape.

The second is to grind their teeth down. 

Like most rodents, their teeth continuously grow throughout their lives. If they don’t grind them down, the beavers end up with teeth issues. As they rely on their teeth to eat food and build homes, it’s crucial to keep them in perfect shape.

How Much Wood Do Beavers Chew?

Beavers do a lot of damage to trees. Particularly young trees. A single beaver can fell up to 200 trees in one year.

It’s difficult to say for sure how much wood a beaver chews, because it depends on the size of the beaver and the type of tree. 

A single beaver typically eats 1.4 to 1.5 pounds of food per day. This might not sound like much, but it adds up quickly. To eat that much bark and twigs, they need to cut down a tree per beaver every few days.

Beavers live in families of four to eight individuals. A family of four beavers takes down 800 trees a year, which is 16,000 in their lifetime.

How Much Wood Do Beavers Chew

How to Stop Beavers From Cutting Down Trees

The most recommended method to stop beavers from eating your trees is to wrap them in wire mesh. Beavers want to preserve their teeth, and won’t chew on the metal.

If you have beavers on your property, you might be wondering what you can do to stop them from chewing on your trees. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do.

Beavers are protected by law in many areas, so you can’t just kill them. But, there are some things you can do to discourage them from chewing on your trees.

Try wrapping the trunks of your trees with wire mesh or chicken wire. You can also try spraying the trees with a bitter-tasting substance, such as pepper spray. These measures can deter the beavers from chewing on your trees.

What Do Beavers Normally Eat?

Beavers will eat anything they can get their teeth into, including shrubs, ferns, aquatic plants, grasses, and even crops like corn and beans. As long as it is plant matter.

Beavers are herbivores, so their diet consists mostly of plants coming from the trees they fell:

  • Bark
  • Leaves
  • Twigs 
  • Roots
  • Buds
  • Fruits
  • Nuts

When beavers fell a tree, they first eat the bark and cambium layer all around the trunk. Beavers will also eat the leaves, branches, and twigs. 

The wood itself is not part of their diet.

The reason that beavers don’t eat wood is because it is very difficult to digest. Wood is made up of cellulose and lignin, which the beaver’s digestive system cannot break down.

While beavers may consume some wood, it doesn’t provide them with much nutrition. This is why beavers need to eat other things like bark and leaves: they contain simpler carbohydrates that the beaver’s digestive system can break down and use for energy.

What Do Beavers Normally Eat

What’s a Beaver’s Favorite Food?

While they have a wide range of tastes, one of their favorites is bark from the aspen tree. Aspens are deciduous trees that are native to North America, and their leaves, inner bark, and twigs all make for a delicious meal for a hungry beaver.

If you ever spot a beaver in the wild, you’ll likely see them chomping away at an aspen tree.

Are Beavers Aggressive?

Beavers have a reputation for being extremely aggressive when defending their territory against perceived encroachment. When infected with rabies, they attack humans. They can also become disoriented during the daytime and attack out of fear.

Beavers are generally shy animals that only attack if they feel threatened. 

If you encounter a beaver in the wild, it is best to give it a wide berth and avoid provoking it.

Conclusion

Beavers do not actually eat the wood they chew on. They use it to build their dams and lodges. They eat other parts of trees though, including bark, leaves, twigs, and roots. 

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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