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Solano County Office of Education

Solano County Office of Education

A beaver (castor canadensis) has a body is similar to the shape of a teardrop. Their thick fur repels water and can range in color from blackish-brown to reddish-brown. They have large front teeth that grow continuously and are used for gnawing wood. Beavers have wide, flat tails used is used to store fat and communicate.  In the water, their tail is used to help them swim while on land it’s used to help them balance. Like the North American river otter, beavers can close their ears and nose when underwater.


Beavers build intricate lodges using the plants available near their water source.  This can include trees, fallen branches, cattails, tule, and other vegetation. 
In the water, their tail is used to help them swim while on land it’s used to help them balance. They also use their tail to communicate danger.  They’ll slap their tail on the water to alert other beavers to seek cover in deep water if there is a predator nearby, such as bobcats or coyotes.


Beavers are herbivores and forage for their food.  They eat plants such as leaves, tree bark, aquatic plants, fruits and roots, and more.


They live near wetlands such as marshes, creeks, streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and shores of large lakes. Beavers are resourceful animals that work to modify their environment to suit their need.  They require a stable food supply and a permanent body of water with abundant plant material to build their lodges.  Beavers can be found in most states throughout the United States. 
Their lodges appear to be mini-ponds on the surface, however, underneath the water they may be up to 15 feet wide and 8 feet tall.  Inside, you’ll find a tunnel that leads to a hollow chamber where they raise their kits and keep them safe from predators.  


The American Beaver plays an important role in our ecosystem as they help provide healthy environments so plants and animals can flourish. These “ecosystem engineers” make ponds along creeks, streams, rivers and marshes, allowing water to pool and collect.  This results in water holding longer in one place which allows it to absorb into the ground and recharge the groundwater supplies. The ponds also provide a habitat for animals including fish, birds, amphibians, and insects.  The wetland plants that grow around the ponds, and the ponds themselves, provide a home and food for many native species in Solano County, including the migratory birds that rely on our wetlands as they pass through our region, including the Great Blue Heron.