Diet and Feeding Activity

Beaver teeth

Beavers are totally herbivorous and do not eat fish.  Tree bark, twigs and leaves are more commonly consumed in the autumn and winter.

Trees such as Willow and cottonwoods are particular favourites.  About 90% of their summer diet consists of herbaceous vegetation such as grasses, sedges and other aquatic plants. Native riparian tree species are attuned to this activity and will rapidly regenerate in response to beaver cutting.

Beaver teeth are suited to this diet having large, curved incisors.   The incisors have no roots and so are continuously growing and are self sharpening with a hard enamel layer in the front and a softer dentine in the back.

Beavers are most active during the Spring and Autumn. They are active throughout the winter, however activity is weather dependent, and they do not hibernate.

Felled tree

If the conditions are poor they may stay within the lodge.  By the Spring their fat reserves have run out and there is deficiency of fresh food. It is at this point that the two year-olds migrate.  After a good summer comes the autumn, when beavers begin storing fat reserves, storing food (caches under water), preparing dams and re-insulating lodges for the winter.

In particularly cold parts of their range, the beavers will store woody material over the winter period in an area called a food cache. beavers typically feed within 100m of the water edge although most activity is generally confined to a 30 m zone.

Beaver with tree branch