Department of Environmental Conservation

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Watchable Wildlife: Beaver

Quick Facts

  • 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
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What to Watch for


20-25 inches long; tail 15 inches 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 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide.
  • Look for tree cuttings and "chips" of wood near the shoreline.

What to Listen for

Tail slaps on 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.

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