Do Beavers Make Good Pets?


I was watching a video the other day with an orphaned beaver that was living in someones homes a pet. This got me wondering whether beavers do make good pets?

There have been numerous occasions where young and orphaned beavers have been kept as pets.  Adult beavers are wild animals and are not suitable to be kept as pets.

Beavers are undeniably one of the cutest mammals of North America, and it was refreshing to see in my research that people have looked after orphaned Beavers at home.  If you do want to look after a beaver and you want to know more about how to look after a beaver, including what they eat, where they sleep, and much more, then please read on.

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What do Beavers eat?

If you want to keep a Beaver as a pet then you need to know what they eat.  The diet of beaver changes as the seasons of the year change.  Beavers are herbivores and will eat what is in season around them.  The inner bark of trees is their favorite, especially during the colder winter months. 

Beavers will often store food underwater in the winter so that they can access the food if the water freezes.  During Spring and Fall, the Beavers diet consists of a mixture of grasses and wood such as beech, maple, birch, alder, black cherry with aspen trees the general preference of a Beaver.   

Beavers enjoy not only the bark of the trees but also the smooth and soft layer just below the bark, the Cambium.  Beavers also eat the foliage and twigs of red maples, willows, and aspens.

In the summertime, only 10 percent of the Beavers diet consists of trees and woody plants with grasses, shrubs, and aquatic plants making up the rest of the Beavers diet.  Cattails, bulrush, pondweeds, water lilies, rhizomes, and other aquatic plants make up the rest of the summertime diet of the Beaver, along with ferns and leaves.

Getting the right diet for a beaver being kept at home would be a tough job to do for anyone not living in the right environment.

With Beavers spending a lot of time in the water you could be forgiven for thinking that they would eat fish, but this is not the case.  By eating aquatic plants, this cleans up the fish’s environment allowing the fish and the beaver to live together peacefully.

A lot of time every day would be spent cutting twigs and sticks for your pet beaver.

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Do Beavers get along well with cats, dogs and other pets?

If you have any other pets such as a dog or cat, then it would be challenging for them to live alongside a beaver.  Beavers are incredibly territorial and have been known to bite and claw dogs that have encroached onto their territory.  With their long front teeth and sharp claws, Beavers can cause deep wounds to other animals and even other beavers. 

Are Beavers aggressive towards humans?

Although people have had orphaned beavers as pets from a young age, Beavers are a wild animal and as such can be very aggressive in their habitat.  When looked after from an early age Beavers can be trained to be quite tame, following you around the house in much the same way a dog or cat would do and hopping up onto your lap for a stroke. 

A man in Belarus is the only known fatality of a beaver.  While driving home he saw a beaver on the side of the road and stopped his vehicle.  The man tried to pick the animal up to have his picture taken, but the beaver bit him several times.  One of the bites went through a major artery in his leg, causing a severe loss of blood. 

There have been several attacks by the Eurasian Beaver which is very similar to the North American Beaver, and this has been attributed partly to the Spring season bringing a more aggressive nature from the young beavers who are trying to stake their territory in the world. 

Beavers can also become confused and disoriented during the daytime and attack out of fear as the beaver is generally nocturnal.

If you would like to know if a beaver can see in the dark, I have written an article here.

How much do Beavers sleep?

Beavers sleep approximately 11 hours per day and are nocturnal animals but can also be active diurnally.  This mostly happens in areas that are disturbed very little by humans.  Beavers work at night to forage and take to the water and can create a large lodge in several nights with a beaver colony. 

During the day, beavers spend the day resting and sleeping waiting for dusk to start his hard work.  If you are thinking of keeping one as a pet, then this is something you should bear in mind.  If you still think that a beaver is a pet for you, then you will be happy to know that the beaver does not hibernate in the winter giving you time all year to bond.

Is the Beaver going to chew all the wood in my house?

Beavers love to chew wood.  It is what they are known for and for a good reason.  They will chew parts of your furniture, your skirting boards, door frames, and any other wood they can get hold of. 

One way to combat this is to make sure they have enough other wood to collect and chew in the house, but no matter how much you give them they will always try to get more.  Some people will get a large cage for the beaver outdoors and put lots of wood in this so that they don’t get bored.  If you have an outdoor garage, then this can be converted into a fantastic space for a beaver, especially if this also leads to a garden. 

When you bring the beaver indoors, do not leave him unattended as if you do then do not be surprised when he has chewed every last bit of wood he can find.  A beaver can get through a wooden door in less than an hour if he wants to and if he wants to go, then he will find a way.

How long do Beavers live?

Beavers generally have a lifespan of 7-8 years although in captivity this has been know to increase to 25 years so you need to ensure that you have this time to be able to care for your animal.

Would a Beaver be able to swim in a normal sized bath?

Beavers love the water and need plenty of time every day in the water. A bath does make a good size swimming pool for a small beaver, but in time another pool would be much better. 

While starting the beaver in the bath, it is good practice to start with just a small amount of water in the bottom so that the beaver can feel the bottom of the bath.  Next time you put the beaver in there, you can fill it halfway, and then after that, if the beaver is doing well you can fill it higher. 

Beavers close their nostrils when swimming underwater, but some disabilities such as Ataxia can make this difficult so make sure to keep an eye on your loved one when in the bath.  It is true that Beavers poop while in the water so if you are using your bath make sure that it is disinfected before you use it. 

‘Beaver fever’ or Giardiasis is a common cause of waterborne disease in humans and can be caused by the feces of the beaver.

What else do I need to know before I get a beaver as a pet?

A beaver in the home will use whatever it can to build a dam in the house.  Nothing will be safe including doormats, slippers, clothes, stuffed animals and everything will be used to build an indoor dam.

Beavers smell, and not in a nice way, more like fish and wet fur.

Beavers will try and leave the property to find their mate.  They have been known to get out of locked cages by thrashing around, possibly injuring themselves in the process.

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Conclusion

Beavers can be bought up from orphans as pets, but they are very hard work. The constant bathing, the cutting of twigs, and the damage to any item of wood, such as furniture or in the house is a constant battle. 

Leaving a beaver in a cage is not the best way to look after any pet. Beavers are not for everyone and probably not for 99% of people who want a pet but if you still think they are for you then I hope this information helps.

If you would like to know how large beavers grow, I have written an article on this here.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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