Department of Environmental Conservation

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Watchable Wildlife: Beaver

Did You Know?

  • A beaver can chew down hundreds of trees each year
  • A family of beavers can eat up to a ton of bark in a winter
  • With waterproof fur, webbed hind feet and the ability to hold its
    breath for 15 minutes, the beaver is well adapted to life in the water
  • The beaver is New York's official state mammal
A beaver in the water near the shore's edge
Beaver - Castor canadensis
Watchable wildlife binoculars icon

What to watch for:


20-25" long; tail 15" long


Prominent orange teeth, dark brown fur and a flat, paddle-shaped tail

Where to watch:

  • Streams, rivers or ponds bordered by woodlands or small marshes
  • Near active beaver dams - look for the lodge, a dome-shaped structure
    5-6' tall, 20-30' wide.
  • Look for tree cuttings and "chips" of wood near the shoreline.

What to listen for:

Tail slaps in the water

When to watch:

Beavers are active year-round and most likely to be seen early in the morning or at dusk.
You may also see one at night with moonlight. In the winter, look for large holes in the ice
on ponds that the beavers use to access the underwater entrance to their lodge. Approach carefully
and stay hidden-beaver are shy. Be patient-it may take a long time before you finally see a beaver.

The best places to watch:

Click on the links below to get more information about each site.
Allegany State Park

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area

Newcomb Vistor Interpretive Center

Paul Smith's Visitor Interpretive Center

Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center

Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center

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