Beaver (Castor canadensis)
|Largest North American Rodent
Distribution: widespread throughout north central Louisiana, lives in every north American state and Canadian Province
Habitat: wooded rivers, streams, lakes, swamps, backwaters.
Appearance: humped back, wide flat tail (11-15 inches long, 6 inches wide), average adult weight is 33 pounds, 35-45 inches, 20 teeth, webbed feet, castor glands on the abdomen, which produces oil that the beaver rubs into its fur to waterproof it, ears and nose has valves which close when submerged, has only a single lower body opening called cloaca (similar to birds and reptiles)
Food habits: strictly vegetarian, eats cambium layer of many woody plants, such as sweetgum, yellow poplar, and willow
Habits: builds dams, constructs conical shaped lodging with sticks and mud above waterline, mark their territory with castor oil and mounds of mud and debris, very territorial, can hold breath for 12-15 minutes and travel mile underwater
Reproduction: sexually mature at 2 years, breeds in winter or early spring, gestation is 115-120 days, average litter is 3,young stay with parents for 2 years
Controls: beavers are prey to wolves, bobcats, bears, coyotes; young are prey to eagle and owls as well
Values: alter the habitat a great deal, dams result in flooding of lowlands, which provides a better habitat for muskrats, many fish, and waterfowl; mink and otter hunt regularly around beaver dams; dams have adverse effects on trout survival and serve as a barrier to migrating trout and salmon; dams cause property damage to crops and roads; beaver host an internal parasite, giardiasis, which can affect our drinking water.