If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of a beaver felling trees, you may have wondered if they eat the wood as they go. In fact, beavers eat many different types of plants. So, what do beavers eat, exactly? What are some of their favorite foods? Are there any foods they won’t eat? Keep reading to learn more!
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Beaver’s Favorite Food?
Beavers are not terribly picky; they eat lots of different foods based on what’s available to them. They prefer the bark and leaves of certain trees, but they also enjoy soft-fiber plants as well.
Regardless of region, beavers seem to favor the leaves and bark of aspen and poplar trees more than anything else. Both of these trees grow widespread near water sources in most habitats where beavers establish their colonies.
Aside from aspen and poplar, though, beavers will eat leaves and twigs off of many trees, especially willow, black cherry, cottonwood, birch, and alder.
Beavers don’t limit their taste buds to leaves and bark though. According to the National Park Service, they also enjoy a wide variety of softer plants such as clover, grass, water lily tubers, ferns, ragweed, cattails, and even some mushrooms.
In fact, if food is scarce, beavers may even resort to eating human crops such as corn and beans. As you might imagine, this could cause problems if a colony of beavers lives near a farm or orchard, especially during periods of drought.
What Do Beavers Drink?
Like every animal, beavers need plenty of water to survive.
Since beavers live in and near water sources, they usually have a plentiful amount of water always available to them. They will drink from their own ponds or other nearby water sources as needed.
Beavers also get small amounts of water from eating fruit, leaves, or anything that has recently been rained on. Gnawing on wet wood may also supply them with small fractions of their daily water intake.
Do Beavers Eat Fish?
Despite living in and around water, where fish would likely be a plentiful source of food, beavers don’t eat fish. They are herbivores, preferring a wide variety of plant foods over other types of animals, including fish.
That said, there are rare occasions when beavers pose a threat to the local fish population.
Beavers may impact fish migrational patterns in some areas. If a beaver dam is built along a certain species’ migration route, the fish may not be able to get through, which in turn can diminish the species’ population by affecting its reproductive habits.
Do Beavers Eat Other Animals?
As mentioned above, beavers are herbivores; they don’t eat animals of any kind.
Beavers are essentially large rodents; they are the hunted, not the hunters. They have plenty of natural predators in the wild, including bears, wolves, wolverines, alligators, coyotes, and even hawks.
Beavers are hunted by most large carnivorous animals, though the exact predators they face will vary depending on the region they live in. The good news for the beavers is that they are able to quickly escape at the first sign of danger, and their dam, lodge, and vast network of underwater tunnels provide them with many places to escape to.
Do Beavers Eat Apples?
Yes, beavers love apples; they also enjoy chewing on apple tree wood and bark. In fact, both apple and cherry trees are some of their favorite go-to trees in the absence of aspen and poplar.
If you have an orchard near a beaver colony, you may begin to notice damage to trees, stripped limbs, and fruit going missing. The best way to remove beavers from your area is to catch and release them somewhere else, using apples, apple or cherry leaves, or bark to bait your live animal traps.
Do Beavers Eat Wood?
A common misconception about beavers is that they eat wood whenever they chew through trees and tree branches.
The truth is, beavers don’t eat the wood itself; they eat a substance on the surface of the wood called cambium. Cambium produces a covering layer on the wood from which new wood and bark grow.
Of course, beavers may consume small amounts of wood when they eat bark and twigs off trees. But, when chewing through larger branches and tree trunks, the beaver allows the wood pieces to fall from its mouth, as you can see in the following video.
Beavers enjoy eating leaves, twigs, and bark from various deciduous trees, especially aspen and poplar. They also like soft plant foods such as clover, cattails, shrubs, apples, and even beans and corn.
Beavers are herbivores, so they don’t eat fish or other animals. They also don’t eat wood, despite what it may look like when they are chewing on trees.