Beaver Basics: The beaver, the second largest rodent in the world, is well-known for its wide, flat tail, used for slapping the surface of the water to warn other beavers of approaching danger. Trees provide a beaver’s favorite winter food — bark and leaves. In summer other vegetation, especially aquatic plants, make up their diet.
Mounds, Burrows and Lodges: Four to eight family members make up colonies and territories are marked with scent mounds — piles of mud that the beavers scent with glandular secretions. Beavers sometimes reside in a burrow at the water’s edge, but more often can be found setting up house in a dome-shaped lodge, built with branches and trees cut down with its large incisors.
The American Beaver: The American beaver can be found throughout North America, except for the most northern parts of Alaska. Like other beavers its feet are webbed for better swimming. The ears and nose snap shut when the animal dives underwater, and the eyes have a third transparent eyelid that helps the beaver to see below the surface of the water. Its dense, yellowish-black, black or reddish-brown fur retains body heat even in the coldest water. A secretive and nocturnal creature, it is awkward on land and thus vulnerable to predators.