What Do Beavers Eat? 5 Foods Beavers Love

what do beavers eat

Beavers are the largest living rodents after capybaras. The only two distinct species of Beaver are the Northern American and Eurasian beavers. They are semi-aquatic mammals with sealable nostrils and transparent eye membranes. Beavers typically reside close to lakes, ponds, and swamps because they require water to survive. 

Beavers also have a unique way of marking their territory. Both male and female beavers have a pair of scent glands at the base of their tails called castors, and they mark their territory with castoreum, a musk-like substance secreted by these glands. 

Beavers are mainly nocturnal animals; most of their time is spent eating and building. Beavers build dams to create ponds, which are their preferred habitat.

Are beavers wood eaters? If not, then what do beavers eat? These large-toothed, brown-furred rodents with flat tails are frequently depicted nibbling on trees. 

What do beavers eat?

Beavers are purely plant-eating animals, i.e., herbivores. Beavers use trees not only for building homes but also for food, and they primarily consume the inner bark of trees and the bark and leaves. 

Beavers consume aspen, willow, maple, poplar tree leaves, roots, and bark. They have also been observed eating sagebrush when vegetation is scarce. Beavers consume some trees while others are used to construct their dams and lodges. 

Beavers also enjoy aquatic plants such as lilies, pondweed, and cattails because they spend so much time in the water.

Unlike other mammals, they can digest cellulose (a significant part of their diet). Beavers’ particular gut microbes aid in the digestion of up to 30% of the cellulose they consume from plants.

What do beavers eat

Do Beavers Eat Wood?

No, beavers do not eat wood. In reality, beavers chew the inner bark of trees, or the cambium layer, and spit it out rather than eat the wood or the entire tree.  

However, beavers have occasionally been observed eating the softer wood found just below the tree’s bark, but they primarily consume the leaves and aquatic plants near their new wooded homes.

Do Beavers Eat Fish?

Beavers are not fish eaters as they are herbivores. A wide variety of beaver food consists of woody, herbaceous, and aquatic plants.

As strict vegetarians, Beavers abstain from all meat and products derived from animals, including honey and eggs from birds. Soft vegetation in the summer and tree bark in the winter make up most of its diet.

How Do Beavers Gather Food?

Beavers are known for their hard work; they collect food and preserve them for winters. Beavers spend weeks in the fall gathering sticks and branches, transporting them, and piling them up in the hopes that the bark, twigs, and leaves will sustain them throughout the winter. In other words, beavers gather and store food during the fall to withstand the chilly winter months.

Studies show that a colony of beavers requires storing between 1500 and 2500 pounds of edible bark, twigs, and leaves. 

How Do Beavers Eat?

A beaver eating a twig would hold it like a piece of corn on the cob, turning and nibbling it. Like humans, they chew with their mouths closed, but their big teeth are visible.

Beavers have flat, white molars, the teeth at the back of the mouth. They grind the food with their back teeth, and they can starve if their teeth are not worn down over time. Or, to put it another way, they won’t be able to close their mouths and grind food with their teeth.

Top 5 Foods Beavers Like to Eat

Beavers Evolve Eating Aquatic Plants

Beavers are semi-aquatic animals, so they spend a lot of time in the water and have evolved to eat aquatic plants. A beaver food in the summer consists primarily of aquatic plants, with bark making up only about 10% of its diet.

Beavers consume aquatic plants like cattails, pondweed, woolgrass, and water lilies.

When food is scarce, beavers have an advantage over other land mammals due to their access to aquatic plants. Even though most of the land’s vegetation has died off in the winter, beavers can still access fresh, green vegetation. 

Beavers Prefer Soft-Green Vegetation in Summers

Beavers will supplement their diet with soft-green vegetation during the summer. They will consume the green shoots, buds, and leaves of the shrubs and trees in the forests near their lodges.

They prefer to eat vegetation close to the water’s edge and are not picky about the type of vegetation they consume. Beavers can easily flee from nearby predators by staying close to the water while they forage.

Tree Barks Attract Beaver

Despite popular belief, beavers don’t consume wood, and however, they do eat from trees. Beavers eat a tree’s cambium layer and its outer bark layer, and the soft layer directly beneath the tree bark is called the cambium.

The Symbiotic bacteria found in the stomachs of beavers cab break the cellulose in tree bark and twigs. Although you might believe that beavers consume any tree, they have preferences. Beavers like to eat the following types of trees: ash, maple, aspen, willow, and cottonwood.

Vegetables and Fruits are Beavers’ Favorite.

Beavers will benefit from any berries, fruits, or vegetables they come across while foraging. For beavers, fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals, and these nutrients aid in the health of beavers.

Beavers will mostly eat fruits that they find on trees, and they especially enjoy eating apples and cherries. They eat vegetables as well if they come across them while foraging. Favorite beaver foods include vegetables with big green shoots and soft, leafy greens.

Fungi are Easy to Consume

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

Beavers can quickly eat mushrooms because they are soft. The forest floors where beavers forage are also home to mushrooms. The Beaver’s desire for salty foods is also satisfied by their high potassium content. 

Tips to Feed Beavers

The body size, activity level, and season affect how frequently these rodents eat. 

During the summer, an adult beaver requires about 3.5 to 4.5 pounds (1.5 to 2 kg) of daily food. But during the winter, it drops to just 2 pounds (0.9 kg) per day.

Northern beavers store food close to their lodge in deep water and cover it with a layer made of leafy branches. When there is a food shortage in the winter, the supply stored in a food cache allows them to survive, and proper storage methods prevent food from freezing. On the other hand, beavers that live in temperate climates rarely need to store food.

These rodents typically eat in the late afternoon, and the best time to construct dams and gather food is sunset and sunrise. However, inside the lodge, they are free to eat whenever they please.

Food to Avoid to Feed Beavers

As previously stated, beavers are herbivores who do not consume meat or fish. They will, however, refuse to destroy certain plants. Here is what these animals avoid eating and why.

  • Beavers typically don’t consume tree parts after destroying them. They prefer the cambium, the supple inner bark, and only eat a few specific tree parts.
  • Beavers never consume alder or oak, and they serve only construction needs. For some reason, these rodents also stay away from twinberry, cascara, and osoberry trees, and Beavers do not happily consume most berry plants from wetlands and blackberry canes. 
  • Beavers will consume conifers like fir, hemlocks, Sitka spruce, and pine when they are starving and have no other options. But they dislike them.
  • Never assume that beavers will eat fish, meat, or meat-related products, and you will never see any of these animals consume such food because they are herbivores (strict vegetarians).
  • Beavers will never consume the leftovers from your meal because they are not omnivores and don’t like to sift through trash cans.

How Do Beavers Get Food in Winter?

During winter, the Beavers come out of their lodge and go into the water to look for aquatic plants. 

They are known for their hard work and can stay underwater for 15 minutes. Beavers are incredibly inventive when it comes to preparing food for the winter. They build their lodges on the water and spend the winter in them. To prevent the water from freezing, they line the bottom of their lodge with new tree branches in the fall. 

The water on top of the branches freezes when the temperature drops below freezing. They also swim out of their lodge and through the ice to their branches when hungry. Beavers consume the buds and twigs of their favorite birch, willow, alder, and poplar trees and shrubs, but only the outer layers of the bark.


Beavers are herbivorous animals that eat mostly plant material and tree bark, and they also eat other foods like grains, fungi, fruits, and vegetables. These foods provide the nutrients the beavers require to remain healthy and thrive. So, after knowing what beavers eat, it’s clear that these are purely vegetarian animals that depend on plants and fruits.

Beavers have evolved to the point where they produce unique poop that they can ingest again. Doing this can get the most nutrition out of the food. To survive, beavers can change their diet from season to season because they can eat woody and soft vegetation.


Do baby beavers eat trees and leaves?

Their young initially nurse from their mothers’ milk, similar to many mammals. They only consume milk for the first six weeks, after which they get other foods like leaves, bark, and inner bark. Until they are old enough to venture out, other beavers in the family provide food for the young beavers.

Do beavers eat meat?

Beavers don’t consume meat as part of their diet; all beaver food is plant-based. It’s a widespread misconception that beavers consume meat.

Do beavers eat dirt?

Beavers, unlike other rodents, have a particular taste for food, and they never eat dirt or take the trash out of someone else’s trash can.

Do beavers eat wood or chew it?

Despite popular belief, beavers don’t consume wood. Nonetheless, they do eat from trees. Beavers will consume a tree’s cambium layer and outer bark layer. The cambium is the supple layer immediately beneath the tree bark.

What is a beaver’s favorite food?

Apples, grasses, water lilies, clover, giant ragweed, cattails, and watercress are just a few examples of the soft vegetation that beavers eat, in addition to trees and other woody plants. Beavers are occasionally known to eat sagebrush when there is a lack of vegetation.

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