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Beavers Are Big, Busy Rodents

If anyone has ever told you that you’re busy as a beaver, they definitely know at least a little something about these crafty critters.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Keyes

Beavers are busy creatures, using their teeth to cut down trees so they can build dams and homes called lodges. In fact, a beaver’s ability to build is the best in the entire animal kingdom.

They build their lodges near water, such as lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. The lodges they build usually have underwater entrances and an area above the water where they sleep and rest.

Fun Facts

  • Beavers are rodents, like mice and rats. They are the largest rodent in Illinois and even North America. They can be as heavy as 90 pounds, although most adults weigh between 40 and 50 pounds. Only one rodent in the entire world is bigger than a beaver. It is called a capybara, and it lives in South America.

  • A beaver’s teeth can cut through a willow tree that is 5 inches in diameter in less than 1 minute.

  • Beavers are herbivores, which means they eat only plant material. They like to eat twigs and other tree matter. In the warmer months, they also sometimes eat grass, clover, plant roots and berries.

  • Baby beavers are called kits, and they are born covered with fur. They can swim when they are born, but they usually stay in the den until they are about 1 month old.

  • The teeth of a beaver are orange. The color occurs because the teeth are covered in enamel that contains iron. Their teeth never stop growing, but they don’t get too long because of how they chew and gnaw on trees.

  • Beavers usually live about 10 to 12 years in the wild.

  • The tail of a beaver is covered in scales, and it has many uses. Beavers use their tails to help them swim and also to help them balance while on land. They also slap the water with their tails to alert other beavers to danger.

  • Beavers can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes without coming up for air.

  • A family of beavers is called a colony. A colony includes the mother and father beaver and all their babies from the previous two years. After two years, beavers leave the colony to form their own families.

  • Beaver fur is covered in an oily substance to make it waterproof.


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