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What Do Beavers Eat? (The Beaver’s Herbivore Diet)

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Beavers are herbivores and primarily eat aquatic plants and grasses, as well as bark, twigs, and leaves. They do not eat fish, though it is a common belief. 

Beavers are a unique and important part of North America’s ecology. 

These industrious animals play an important role in nature. They create habitats for other wildlife, and their dams provide critical water regulation for local ecosystems. 

But what do beavers eat?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at beavers’ diet, and how their diet affects their behavior and ecology.

What Do Beavers Eat?

Beavers eat plants as they are herbivores, mainly consisting of twigs, leaves, and bark. They spend a lot of their life in water, allowing them to also feed on aquatic plants and grasses.

Beavers are herbivorous animals, meaning that their diet is made up of plants.[1] 

Beavers’ diet consists of:

  • Twigs
  • Bark
  • Leaves
  • Aquatic plants
  • Grasses
  • Shrubs

And other plants-

The type of vegetation available to beavers varies depending on their location. Their favorite trees to forage from include the following:

  • Willow
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Maple
  • Poplar trees

Their diet also varies depending on the season.

What Does a Beaver Eat

What Do Beavers Eat In the Summer?

In the spring and summer months, beavers eat the leaves, twigs, and bark of a variety of trees and shrubs. 

What Do Beavers Eat In the Fall?

In the fall, beavers begin to prepare for winter by stockpiling food. They do this by cutting down trees and shrubs, stripping off the bark, and storing the wood in underwater caches near their lodges. 

Beavers also eat the bark and twigs they store, as well as aquatic plants such as cattails and water lilies.

What Do Beavers Eat In the Winter?

During the winter months, beavers largely rely on these stored food sources, as they are less active and spend more time in their lodges. 

As a result, their diet during this time period is not as varied as it is during other seasons.

They do occasionally forage for twigs and buds from their favorite trees. If they run out of food, they have stored up fat in their tails that they rely on for energy.

What Do Beavers Eat in the Winter
Image Source

What Do Beavers Eat in the Wild?

Wild beavers are opportunistic feeders. They consume a variety of different food sources depending on the season and their environment, mostly relying on grasses, twigs, leaves, and bark. 

In general, wild beavers are herbivorous. They eat the leaves, twigs, and bark of trees and shrubs. They also eat aquatic plants such as cattails and water lilies.

The diet of beavers has a direct impact on their behavior and ecology. For example, the dam-building activities of beavers help regulate water flow in local ecosystems.[2]

In addition, the family groups that beavers live in work together to build and maintain their lodges and gather food.

What Do Beavers Eat In Captivity?

Caretakers of pet beavers, or beavers in captivity, match the diet of wild beavers. Pet beavers are fed twigs, leaves, roots, and flower buds, much like their wild counterparts.

Beavers in captivity, or pet beavers, eat a variety of different foods depending on what’s available to their caretaker. 

For instance, some caretakers may feed their beaver’s shrubs and ferns, while other have the possibility of feeding their beavers more twigs and leaves.

They generally like to eat the following foods:

  • Bark
  • Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Shrubs
  • Ferns
  • Aquatic plants
  • Grass
  • Crops

The diet of a captive beaver should be carefully planned and monitored by a qualified veterinarian. This is to ensure that the beaver remains healthy and receives all the nutrients it needs. 

A variety of different commercially-prepared beaver diets are somewhat available, or your veterinarian can help you create a custom diet plan for your beaver.

What Do Beavers Eat In Captivity
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What Do Baby Beavers Eat?

Baby beavers rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition for the first few weeks of their lives. After around six weeks they begin to eat solid food.

Baby beavers, or beaver kits, are born blind and deaf and weigh only about one pound. 

They can’t forage themselves and rely on their mother for food. In the first weeks, they drink their mother’s milk, before moving on to solid food after six weeks.

Kits eat the same foods as their parents, including leaves, twigs, bark, aquatic plants, and other vegetation. 

As they grow older and become independent, they forage themselves.

How Much Do Beavers Eat in a Day?

During the summer, an adult beaver needs 3.5-4.5 pounds (1.5-2 kg) of food per day. In the winter, it reduces that amount as it reserves its energy.[3]

Adult beavers weigh up to 60 pounds. As they also spend a lot of energy building their lodges and dams, they need a lot of food.

On an average summer day, adult beavers eat 3.5-4.5 pounds of food. This amount is lower in the winter, as they reserve energy.

They also eat more during the fall to store up fat. Extra fat is stored in the tail for when there’s a lack of food around.

Baby beavers, or “kits,” eat less than adult beavers. After around six weeks, when they begin to eat solid food, they consume about 1/2 pound (0.23 kg) of food per day.

How Much Do Beavers Eat in a Day

Are Beavers Herbivores?

Yes, beavers are herbivores. They eat plants for nutrients and energy. Beavers eat the leaves, twigs, and bark of trees and shrubs, and aquatic plants such as cattails and water lilies. 

Wild beavers forage for plants. Beavers in captivity may eat a variety of different foods depending on their owner’s preference. But in general, beavers are mostly herbivorous animals.

Over millions of years, beaver’s bodies have evolved to process plants effectively:

  • They have pointy front teeth to shred bark.
  • They have flat back teeth to grind plants.
  • Their digestive system processes plant matter effectively.

Due to their great swimming abilities, they also forage in water with ease. 

With webbed feet and water-repelling coats, they dive into the water to feed on aquatic plants.

How Do Beavers Find Food?

When beavers are looking for food, they use their sense of smell and explore their surroundings. When they find a good food source, they build their lodge and dam next to it. 

Beavers use the following senses to find food:

  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Eyesight

Sense of Smell

Beavers Sense of Smell

Beavers have an excellent sense of smell. They use it to track down food sources. They follow their noses to find the best spot to build their dam and lodge.

Beavers also use their sense of smell to find mates. They can follow the scent of a potential mate for miles before they meet up with them.

Sense of Taste

Besides their sense of smell, beavers also have a good sense of taste. This helps them determine if a particular plant is edible or not. They usually only eat plants that they know are safe.

Eyesight

While beavers have poor eyesight, they can see the difference between plants and trees. This allows them to spot food sources in the near vicinity. 

Beavers are near-sighted, so they rely more on their other senses when it comes to spotting predators. But they can see food around them.

Conclusion

Beavers are vegetarians (also known as herbivores). This means they only eat vegetation. They do not eat fish or meat. 

Beaver populations have been declining in recent years due to habitat loss and deforestation, threatening their habitat and food sources.

FAQs

Do Beavers Eat Trees?

No, beavers do not eat trees entirely. Beavers do gnaw on trees and eat their parts, such as the roots, twigs, bark, and leaves, but they don’t eat the wood. They gnaw on the wood to grind their teeth and to build dams.

Do Beavers Eat Fish?

No, beavers do not eat fish. They are strictly herbivores, which means that their diet consists only of plants. Beavers will sometimes dam up rivers in order to create ponds, but this is done to create a safe place for their young to swim and play. They do not eat the fish that are trapped in the ponds.

Do Beavers Eat Bugs?

No, beavers do not eat bugs. They are herbivores, which means that their diet consists only of plants. They may trap bugs in their damn or accidentally gnaw on them when felling trees.

Do Beavers Eat Apples?

Yes, beavers will eat apples if they can find them. But rarely eat fruit as their favorite food is bark, but they won’t pass up a meal. If a beaver finds an apple tree, it is likely that it will eat some of the apples from the tree.

Do Beavers Eat Bark?

Beavers’ favorite food is bark. They especially like soft inner bark from alder, aspen, apple, birch, cherry, cottonwood, poplar, and willow. They do not eat the wood inside the tree.

Do Beavers Eat Corn?

Yes, beavers will eat corn if they can find it, but they don’t actively look for it. They prefer to forage from trees, including twigs, roots, buds, and roots.

Do Beavers Eat Carrots?

Yes, beavers will eat carrots if they can find them. It’s not a staple in their diet, but as opportunistic feeders, they will eat carrots when coming across some.

Do Beavers Eat Snakes?

No, beavers do not eat snakes. Beavers do not eat meat of any kind, including snakes, other reptiles, mammals, rodents, or insects.

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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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