What Do Beavers Eat?


What Do Beavers Eat?

A beaver is substantially bigger than a conventional rodent, as anyone who has ever witnessed one in the wild can attest. You might be asking how much a beaver needs to consume each day since smaller rodents need to eat a lot. What do beavers consume, though?

Beavers are mostly plant-based eaters and are herbivores. Tree bark, leaves, and water vegetation are essential components of the diet of beavers. Beavers don’t eat meat and are not opportunistic eaters like most rodents. Beavers may consume grains, grasses, fruits, vegetables, fungus, and vegetables depending on the availability of food.

You might be shocked to learn that despite beavers’ frequent proximity to water, they don’t eat a lot of pond life. Their diet is actually quite specialized. How then do such massive rodents endure on such a restricted diet?

Everything you need to know about the beaver’s diet is covered in this guide. You’ll discover what they eat as well as some unique feeding behaviors.

Let’s start now.

What do Beavers Eat?

What do Beavers Eat?

1. Bark And Twigs

Despite popular perception, beavers don’t consume wood. However, they do eat from trees. The outer bark layer and the cambium layer of a tree are both consumed by beavers.

The delicate layer directly beneath the tree bark is called the cambium.

Symbiotic bacteria found in the stomachs of beavers are capable of degrading the cellulose found in tree bark and twigs. It is impossible for humans to accomplish this.

Although you would believe that beavers will consume any tree, they have preferences.

Beavers favor the following trees to eat:

  • Willow
  • Ash
  • Aspen
  • Cottonwood
  • Maple
  • Rowan
  • Hazel
  • Birch
  • Alder

Trees that are near to the water’s edge are preferred by beavers. If they don’t have a lot of options, though, they will also accept what is offered to them.

Conifers are typically the last type of tree a beaver chooses to consume. Even said, beavers will occasionally consume evergreens if there are no other food sources available. Because the bark doesn’t taste particularly delicious, beavers prefer to use these trees for building materials.

Beavers require a steady supply of food because they are active year-round. Beavers can easily store away tree bark and twigs for the winter. The availability of trees is also year-round, unlike that of newly-planted greenery.

2. Aquatic plants

Beavers spend a lot of time in the water because they are semi-aquatic animals. Their adaptation to consuming aquatic vegetation makes sense.

Aquatic vegetation make up around 80% of the beaver’s diet in the summer, while bark makes up only about 10%.

Beavers move far more quickly in the water than they do on land. Beavers can submerge themselves for up to 15 minutes at a time. Additionally, they have translucent eyelids that improve their underwater vision.

Beavers are very good divers and find plants that grow below the water’s surface thanks to all of these adaptations.

Beavers have an edge over other terrestrial mammals when food is scarce because they have access to water plants. Even when the majority of the land’s flora has died off in the winter, beavers can still reach fresh, green foliage.

Moose are the only animals that truly compete with aquatic plants.

Beavers eat a variety of aquatic plants, such as:

  • Lizardtail
  • Woolgrass
  • Aquatic lilies
  • Pondweed
  • Hornwort
  • Starwart
  • Horsetail
  • Elochartis
  • Cattails

The beaver’s diet is rich in iron from aquatic vegetation. A beaver’s teeth require iron to remain powerful enough to bite through wood.

3. Vegetation

Beavers will supplement their diet with soft-green plants during the summer. In the woodlands near their lodges, they will consume the green shoots, buds, and leaves of the trees and bushes.

Beavers prefer to eat vegetation that is close to the water’s edge and are not picky about the type of vegetation they consume. Beavers may easily flee from neighboring predators by foraging close to bodies of water.

Beaver primarily consume higher-up browsing vegetation. But they also consume lower-level grazing vegetation. Common plants that beavers eat include weeds and grasses.

The green flora that beavers eat provides them with a lot of nutrition. Additionally, the more they consume, the more fat they can store for the winter.

4. Fruit and vegetables

Beavers will benefit from any berries, fruits, or vegetables they come across while foraging. Beavers can acquire all the vitamins and minerals they need from fruits and vegetables. These minerals support the health of beavers.

Beavers will primarily encounter fruits that they discover on trees. They enjoy eating apples and cherries in particular.

Beavers will consume vegetables as well if they come across them while foraging. A favorite are veggies with big green shoots and soft leafy greens.

Beavers eat a variety of plants, including:

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Broccoli

Beavers are not motivated to seek out fresh produce on their own. However, as they are herbivores, beavers don’t really care what kind of new flora they eat. Therefore, they will probably eat it if they come upon it.

5. Fungi

Fungi and lichen are frequent food sources for beavers because they frequently grow on tree bark. Particularly during the winter, these foods are a fantastic source of nutrition.

Beavers can easily consume mushrooms since they are mushy. Additionally, they are rich in potassium, which helps to satiate the beaver’s craving for salty foods.

Additionally, beavers can find mushrooms on the forest floors where they graze. A variety of mushroom species can grow in the moist conditions that beaver dams assist to create.

6. Grains

When hunting for vegetation, beavers will happily assist themselves to any grains and crops they come upon. They have the best chance of surviving by consuming as much food as they can in the summer and fall.

This suggests that a foraging beaver in the region might have as its prey cultivated crops.

Beavers are reported to consume a variety of grains, such as:

  • Corn
  • the soy bean
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats

Beavers can get a lot of energy and fiber from grains in their diet. Beavers can also do a lot of harm to farmers because crops commonly grow in big fields.

7. Poop

Beavers eat their own feces because they are coprophagic. Even though it seems quite disgusting, this is very advantageous for the diet of beavers.

In actuality, beavers have the ability to produce two different types of feces because they are hindgut fermenters.

The first kind is ordinary poop, also referred to as firm feces, which comprises completely digested food. These are not consumed by beavers.

The second kind is referred to as cecotrope, or soft feces. The majority of the foods in a cecotrope are fermented and undigested. These are produced in various, bacterially active regions of the cecum of the beaver’s colon. All that beavers will eat are cecotropes.

The beavers can get more energy, nutrients, and amino acids from the food they’ve already consumed by eating a cecotrope. Beavers can receive protein and beneficial bacteria from cecotropes to maintain a healthy digestive system.

8. Beaver milk

Kits, or baby beavers, depend on their mother’s breast milk as their primary source of nutrition. For the first two to three weeks of life, kits will only consume beaver breastmilk.

After that, their parents will start introducing solid foods by taking them on foraging outings. Soft aquatic plants and the soft cambium layer of tree bark are the first meals they will consume.

The kits are completely weaned and eating the same diet as an adult beaver by the time they are about 6 weeks old.

Related questions

1. Bark And Twigs

Do beavers eat fish?

Beavers only consume plants and do not consume any fish in their diet. The idea that beavers consume fish because they share the same habitat is a prevalent one.

A beaver might, however, eat a tiny amount of fish if given the chance and is starving. They wouldn’t consume the entire dead fish, but they could nibble on one that was lying near the water.

A fish in the water won’t be actively hunted and killed by beavers for food.

Actually, beaver dams may benefit fish like salmon. Together, the two species can coexist and prosper in a favorable environment.

Do beavers eat Meat?

Beavers do not consume any meat as part of their diet; they exclusively consume plants. Many people have the misperception that beavers consume meat.

The fact that beavers are huge rodents is probably to blame for this. Rats and mice, as well as other members of the rodent family, are opportunistic eaters who include fish, meat, and carrion in their diet.

Because a beaver can only digest vegetation, consuming meat would probably upset its stomach. Additionally, beavers lack the instinct to hunt other animals for food.

Final Thoughts

Beavers are mostly plant and tree bark eaters, making them herbivores. They will also eat other items like grains, fungus, fruits, and vegetables. The nutrients the beavers require to stay healthy and thrive are provided by these sources.For the first few weeks of life, newborn beavers are entirely dependent on beaver lactation. By the time they are 6 weeks old, they are consuming the same diet as adult beavers and are swiftly taught how to find food on their own.

Even beavers have evolved to produce unique poop that they may re-ingest. This enables them to get the most nutrition out of the diet

Beavers may change their diet from season to season to survive, since they can eat both woody and soft plants.


What’s a beaver’s favorite food?

Beavers mostly eat the inner bark of soft woody plants, especially during the chilly months of fall and spring. Although they like aspen trees, they will also eat the bark of cottonwood, alder, willow, and birch trees. Beavers frequently consume leaves during the summer because they are a great source of nutrients.

What are Beavers’s favorite foods?

Beavers also eat the roots, leaves, vines, young twigs, sedges, shrubs, grasses, blackberry canes, ferns, and new bark of woody plants. Beavers eat soft vegetation like apples, grasses, water lilies, clover, giant ragweed, cattails, and watercress, in addition to trees and other woody plants.

Do beavers eat wood or just chew it?

Wood is not consumed by beavers. They indeed chop down trees to create lodges and dams, but they also consume the tree bark and the softer layers of wood underneath. Beavers’ special gut microbes aid in the digestion of up to 30% of the cellulose they consume from plants.

What kind of meat do beavers eat?

Beavers do not consume meat. Beavers are vegetarian herbivores that only consume fine twigs and leaves, bark, and twigs from aspen, willow, poplar, maple, birch, and cottonwood trees. Mar 3, 2022


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author