Eurasian Beaver

Castor fiber

Last updated: February 1, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit iStock.com/CreativeNature_nl

Eats 20% of its weight daily!

Eurasian Beaver Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Rodentia
Family
Castoridae
Genus
Castor
Scientific Name
Castor fiber

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Eurasian Beaver Conservation Status

Eurasian Beaver Locations

Eurasian Beaver Locations

Eurasian Beaver Facts

Name Of Young
kit
Group Behavior
  • Social
Fun Fact
Eats 20% of its weight daily!
Estimated Population Size
More than 200,000
Biggest Threat
Habitat loss, predators
Most Distinctive Feature
large, flat tail
Gestation Period
107 days
Litter Size
three to six
Habitat
Ponds, lakes
Predators
Wolves, foxes, lynxes, wolverines
Diet
Herbivore
Type
rodent
Common Name
beaver
Location
Europe, Asia, Scandinavia

Eurasian Beaver Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Fawn
  • Light-Brown
Skin Type
Fur
Top Speed
25 mph
Lifespan
seven to eight years
Weight
47 to 51 pounds
Height
two to 3.5 feet
Length
two to 3.5 feet
Age of Sexual Maturity
two years
Age of Weaning
six weeks

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View all of the Eurasian Beaver images!



“The Eurasian beaver was once hunted for its castoreum.”

The Eurasian beaver is a large rodent native to Europe, Scandinavia, and parts of Asia. You can find it in France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Once hunted to extinction in most of its range, the Eurasian beaver is now thriving and a conservation success story.

3 Incredible Eurasian Beaver Facts!

  • It is the largest rodent species native to Europe.
  • It is a keystone species.
  • Like its North American cousin, it is a hardworking dam builder.

Scientific Name

Its scientific name is Castor fiber.

Appearance

Identification of an Eurasian beaver begins with its size. With an average length of more than three feet and an average weight of 50 pounds, it is the largest living rodent in Europe. It is also the second heaviest rodent species in the world after the capybara.

The beaver’s thick, long fur is usually pale brown or fawn. Some have reddish-brown fur. It has a strong, stocky body, webbed feet, and a large, flat tail.

Eurasian beavers weigh, on average, 50 pounds.

iStock.com/belizar73



What Is the Difference Between a North American Beaver and an Eurasian Beaver?

The Eurasian beaver looks like the North American beaver, but there are some key differences. One is that the North American beaver has 40 chromosomes, and the Eurasian beaver has 48. For this reason, attempts to breed them with each other have been unsuccessful.

Another difference is their fur colors. Most Eurasian beavers are light brown or reddish-brown. They rarely appear in the dark or black colors of North American beavers.

Another identification mark is their head size. A Eurasian beaver has a less rounded head and a narrower muzzle than a North American beaver. It also has triangular nasal openings, while a North American beaver has square nasal openings.

Finally, the Eurasian beaver has a narrower tail than a North American beaver.

Behavior

Like its North American brother, the Eurasian beaver is a busy animal known for building dams. These dams create ponds and water sources for many animals.

The Eurasian beaver is considered a keystone species. That means its presence is vital to a healthy ecosystem. There are several reasons why this beaver is ecologically important. It creates wetlands that support an enormous number of species, including waterfowl and small rodents. By removing trees, it encourages the regrowth of dense shrubs, which supply cover for birds and small animals. Cleared trees also make it easier for forest bats to navigate.

Beaver dams improve water quality by trapping and filtering sediment. This increases the population of important prey fish, including salmon and trout.

Eurasian beavers do not have complex communications. They will sometimes growl or hiss. Their most common form of communication is slapping their tails on the surface of the water. They do this to warn other beavers of danger.

Habitat

This beaver lives in ponds, lakes, and other freshwater bodies of water. It prefers ponds in forested areas surrounded by softwood trees.

Diet

Eurasian beavers are herbivores. They mostly eat riverbank plants like myrtles, cattails, and water lilies. They also eat tree bark. To fuel its busy dam-building life, the average beaver needs to eat 20% of its body weight daily.

Predators and Threats

The biggest threat to Eurasian beavers has been human hunting. Its natural predators include large carnivores such as wolves, wolverines, foxes, and lynxes.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Eurasian beavers reach sexual maturity at three years old, but a few two-year-old females reproduce. The breeding season lasts from December to May. Before the breeding season starts, the male beaver builds a dam that serves as a shelter for storing food and raising the young. Once the female gets pregnant, she gestates for about 107 days before giving birth to a litter of two to six babies, which are known as kits.

Eurasian beavers live in small family groups that include young adults who haven’t reached sexual maturity. These young adults help rear the young kits, who are weaned at six weeks old. Unlike other rodent species, Eurasian beavers are monogamous. Pairs usually stay together and continue reproducing with each other year after year. They typically have one breeding season each year. This dependable, regular life cycle is one reason beavers have successfully reproduced after reintroduction.

Their lifespan in the wild is seven to eight years. Beavers in captivity can have a lifespan of 14 to 17 years.

Population

The Eurasian beaver’s healthy current population can be credited to successful reintroduction efforts by conservationists in Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia. Another factor in its success was the beaver’s ability to adapt to new environments and a life cycle that includes regular reproduction by monogamous pairs.

Now, many countries that have lost their beaver populations have healthy, thriving numbers of animals. An estimated 14,000 live in France, and 100,000 beavers now live in Germany. In 2018, beavers returned to Italy after a 500-year absence.

Some countries in the beaver’s former range have never recovered their beaver populations. It is still considered critically endangered in the United Kingdom, endangered in Scotland, and endangered in much of Asia.

Conservation Status

The Eurasian beaver was hunted extensively for its meat and fur. By the early part of the 20th century, there were only around 1,200 left. Efforts to reintroduce Eurasian beavers have been successful, however, and the species is listed as “least concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Busy Builders

The Eurasian beaver improves its ecosystem and is a keystone species in its habitat. Thanks to successful reintroduction and its ability to reproduce regularly, it has bounced back from the brink of extinction.

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Eurasian Beaver FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Eurasian beaver?

It is the largest rodent native to Europe. It is a herbivorous, fur-bearing mammal that builds dams in ponds and lakes.

What do Eurasian beavers eat?

They are herbivores who mostly eat water plants and softwood tree bark.

Is the Eurasian beaver extinct?

It is not extinct, but it was hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century. Currently, the animal’s population has rebounded after Eurasian beavers were introduced to much of their former range. They are still extinct in some former habitats, including Portugal and Turkey. Today, it is classed as “least concern” by the IUCN.

Why are Eurasian and American Beaver DNAs so different??

They have different numbers of chromosomes. Although they look similar, there are some differences that can help with identification. These include fur colors and tail shapes.

Where does the Eurasian beaver live?

It lives in wetlands areas of Europe, Asia, Russia, and Scandinavia.

What is a Eurasian beaver and why are they important to the environment?

Eurasian beavers, like North American beavers, are important to pond and lake ecosystems. Their dams create food and water sources for all other animals in the ecosystem, and their tree-clearing activities encourage healthy forest growth. Because of these facts, they are considered a keystone species.

Do Eurasian beavers build dams?

Yes, they do.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_beaver
  2. Saving Britain's Wildlife, Available here: https://www.mammal.org.uk/species-hub/full-species-hub/discover-mammals/species-eurasian-beaver/
  3. Animal Diversity Web, Available here: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Castor_fiber/

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