Beavers are very good managers of food.  They begin to store food when there is an abundant amount of food available. They often begin to stock up on food during the beginning of September. The food is piled up in what is called a food cache. They continue to store food in the pond, near the den, until the water becomes frozen for the first time. Beavers are herbivores, which means they are vegetarians. Because there is an ample supply of bark available during the winter compared to other food, beavers eat huge amounts of this. During the spring, beavers will eat almost any plants that are in the water or around the edges of the body of water. They also eat duckweed (which floats on the top of the water) as they are swimming. In beaver ponds, the vegetation throughout the body of water is very limited, as it is eaten as soon as it is found. When they are outside of the water, they will eat leaves from most trees, many berries and other fruits (raspberries and cranberries), and grasses.

 Before beavers begin to eat their food, they first smell it. If they are pleased, they taste the trees or other food to see if it is worth cutting down and hauling back to the den. If the food is farther from the pond, they are pickier with what they chose. The tree must also be a reasonable size so that they are able to take it back to the den. Once they have made their selection, they begin by cutting the food with the incisors. They then grind the food into very small pieces with the molars. The food that they swallow contains protein, carbohydrates, fat, and a lot of cellulose! Enzymes that are secreted in the stomach convert the cellulose into starch, which can then form sugars that can be digested. Energy isn’t just stored in the food caches, but it is also stored as fat. Fat is very important during the winter, especially for the older beavers. Taking into consideration how active beavers are, it is surprising that they have a rather slow metabolism. Somewhere between 760 and 850 kcal are needed every day for a beaver that weighs 26 pounds.     

  Previous        Home        Next