North America is a rodent’s paradise. There are many different species of rodents, from the ubiquitous house mouse to the more exotic prairie dog.
Rodent populations are largely determined by the availability of food and shelter. In urban areas, where there is an abundance of both, rodent populations can quickly get out of control.
Beavers, the second-largest rodent type all over the world, is the largest rodent found in North America. With bodies that grow as long as 80cm, the size of these rodents shouldn’t be taken lightly.
With an average weight of 66 lbs., the beaver is a force to be reckoned with, both in and out of the water. Their large size helps them to build dams that are essential for their survival.
Beavers: North America’s Biggest Rodent
Are you fascinated by beavers? Do you want to learn more about these amazing creatures? Here’s a quick introduction to beavers, North America’s largest rodent.
Beavers are large, semi-aquatic rodents that are found in North America and Europe. In North America, beavers are found from Alaska down to the northern parts of Mexico. Beavers are the second-largest rodent in the world after the capybara.
These rodents have thick, brown fur that keeps them warm in the coldest of climates. They have wide, flat tails that they use to help them swim. Additionally, their webbed feet help them move easily through the water.
How to Distinguish Beavers from Other Rodents?
Aside from the fact that they mostly live in water, how can you tell a beaver apart from other rodents? Here are some of the key characteristics that distinguish beavers from other types of rodents:
Thick Brown Fur
While other rodents may have brown fur, beavers’ fur is significantly thicker. This thick fur helps to keep them warm in the coldest climates and also provides them with some protection from predators.
Distinct Flat Tail
You may have noticed this, but other rodents have thinner and pointy tails. Beavers, on the other hand, have distinct tails that are flat and wide. This is one of the main characteristics that sets them apart from other rodents.
They use their tails for balance when they are swimming, while their webbed feet help them move through the water with ease.
Beavers are also known for their large teeth. Their teeth grow continually, which is why they are always gnawing on trees and other objects. This helps to keep their teeth at a manageable size.
What Do Beavers Eat?
Beavers are mostly herbivores, which means that they’d happily munch on twigs, plants, and other vegetation. In fact, they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to create ponds and wetlands.
With their large teeth, beavers are able to gnaw through tree trunks and branches. This is how they create the dams that are essential for their survival. Water lilies, barks of maple, willows, and aspen trees are also part of their diet.
Coyotes, bobcats, and foxes are the common animals usually hunting for beavers.
Do Beavers Pose a Threat to Humans?
When we think of rodents, we usually think of them as pests that carry diseases. While there are some instances in North America where beavers are known to build dams near residential areas, beavers aren’t particularly hostile. Don’t worry. You’re not likely to see a beaver chasing you down the street!
Similar to other rodents, beavers would attack only if they perceive a threat. If it feels cornered, it won’t take kindly to being threatened and might lash out. Their teeth are also extremely sharp, which may result in a full-blown infection.
Beavers also carry a number of parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Rabies, parasites, and tularemia are some of the common diseases beavers carry and may pass on to humans. This could be through a bite or through contact with their urine or feces, bites, or scratches.
How Can You Prevent Attacks from Beavers?
Although it’s pretty rare, beavers may get aggressive, especially if you’re approaching their territory. They feel the need to protect themselves and their young, which is why they might attack if they feel threatened.
Avoiding a beaver attack requires one simple thing – stay away from them. If you see a beaver, it’s best to keep your distance and give them plenty of space. If you’re planning on spending time in areas where beavers are known to live, don’t forget to take precautions and be careful when you’re near the water.
During rare instances that beavers are starting to become a pest and have taken residence near your place, ensure that you don’t try to fix the situation by yourself.
Proper handling and removal of beavers should only be done by experts to avoid any potential danger. Many people have been seriously injured by beavers that were handled improperly.
If they can easily gnaw through large and thick tree barks, what more do you think they can do to your flesh?
What’s the Second Largest Rodent in North America?
Erethizon dorsatum, commonly known as the North American porcupine, is the second-largest rodent in North America.
A mammal and part of the rodent family, it’s a slow-moving creature with black and white quills that cover its back, sides, and tail. When under threat, the rodent will raise its quills to make itself appear larger and more intimidating.
Weighing in at between 10 and 35lbs, North American porcupines are smaller than their beaver cousins, but they’re still sizeable creatures. These animals are mostly nocturnal and spend their days sleeping in trees. They’re excellent climbers and use their long claws to help them grip tree barks.
The distinct brown furs and flat tails of beavers make them one of the most recognizable animals in North America. These rodents are mostly herbivores and play an important role in the ecosystem.
They’re considered to be the second largest rodents in the world, and the number one largest in Europe, Asia, and North America.