Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

The American beaver, Castor canadensis, is a large rodent that occurs throughout most of North America. The species is fairly common in Utah, where it may be found in permanent slow moving streams, ponds, small lakes, and reservoirs. Beaver are mainly nocturnal but are occasionally seen during the day. They do not hibernate, but may become less active during the winter.

Beaver cut trees to build dams and water diversions, sometimes creating large ponds. Lodges of sticks and mud are often constructed near these ponds and are used by beaver families for shelter, food storage, and the rearing of young.

Females may have one litter of one to nine young each year during the spring or early summer. Beaver are herbivores, eating primarily woody material, such as aspen, in the winter, and green aquatic and riparian vegetation in the summer. The beaver is easily distinguished because of its large size and large paddle-like tail. It is an important furbearer in many areas of North America, including Utah.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.