I watched a video the other day with an orphaned beaver living in someone’s home as a pet. This reminded me of someone I used to go to school with who had a pet beaver. I phoned him recently to get information about whether beavers made good pets.
There have been numerous occasions where young and orphaned beavers have been kept as pets. However, adult beavers are wild animals and are not suitable for pets.
Beavers are undeniably one of North America’s cutest mammals, and it was refreshing to see in my research that people have looked after orphaned beavers at home. Please read on if you want to look after a beaver and know more, including what they eat, where they sleep, and much more.
What Do Beavers Eat?
To keep a beaver as a pet, you must know what they eat. The diet of beavers 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 often store food underwater in the winter to access the food if the water freezes. During spring and fall, a beaver’s diet consists of grasses and wood, such as beech, maple, birch, alder, black cherry, and aspen trees.
Beavers enjoy the bark of the trees and 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% of the Beavers’ diet consists of trees and woody plants, with grasses, shrubs, and aquatic plants making up the rest of the diet. Cattails, bulrush, pondweeds, water lilies, rhizomes, and other aquatic plants make up the rest of the beaver’s summer diet, along with ferns and leaves.
Getting the proper diet for a beaver being kept at home would be a tough job for anyone not living in the right environment.
With beavers spending a lot of time in the water, you could be forgiven for thinking they would eat fish, but this is not the case. Eating aquatic plants gives a clean 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.
Do Beavers Get Along With Cats, Dogs, and Other Pets?
If you have other pets, such as a dog or cat, it would be challenging for them to live alongside a beaver. Beavers are incredibly territorial and have been known to bite and claw dogs encroaching onto their territory. Beavers can cause fatal wounds to other animals with their long front teeth and sharp claws.
Are Beavers Aggressive Toward Humans?
Although people have had orphaned beavers as pets from a young age, beavers are wild animals and can be very aggressive in their habitat. When looked after from an early age, beavers can be trained to be relatively tame, following you around the house like a dog or cat and hopping 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 severe blood loss.
There have been several attacks by the Eurasian Beaver, similar to the North American Beaver. This has been attributed partly to the spring season bringing a more aggressive nature from the young beavers 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.
How Much Do Beavers Sleep?
Beavers sleep approximately 11 hours daily and are nocturnal animals but can also be diurnally active. This mostly happens in areas that are disturbed very little by humans. Beavers work at night to forage and can create a large lodge over several nights.
During the day, beavers spend the day resting and sleeping, waiting for dusk to start their work. If you consider keeping one as a pet, bear this in mind. If you still believe 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, skirting boards, door frames, and any other wood they can get hold of.
One way to combat this is to ensure 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. If you have an outdoor garage, this can be converted into an excellent space for a beaver, especially if this also leads to a garden.
When you bring the beaver indoors, please do not leave him unattended, as it will chew through every last bit of wood they can find. A beaver can get through a wooden door in less than an hour if they want to.
How Long Do Beavers Live?
Beavers generally have a lifespan of 7-8 years, although, in captivity, this has been known to increase to 25 years, so you need to ensure that you have the time to care for your animal.
Would A Beaver Be Able To Swim In A Bath Tub?
Beavers love water and need plenty of time every day in it. A bath makes a good swimming pool for a small beaver, but a pool would be much better.
While starting the beaver in the bath, it is good practice to start with just a tiny amount of water in the bottom so the beaver can feel the bottom. 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 keep an eye on them when in the bath. Beavers do poop while in the water, so if you are using your bath, ensure 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 beaver’s feces.
What Else Do I Need To Know About 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, and stuffed animals.
Beavers smell, and not in a pleasant way, but more like fish and wet fur.
Beavers will try and leave the property to find a mate. They have been known to get out of locked cages by thrashing around, possibly injuring themselves.
Beavers can be bought up from orphans as pets, but it is challenging work. The constant bathing, the cutting of twigs, and the damage to any wooden items, such as furniture or in the house, is a continuous battle.
Leaving an animal 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, I hope this information helps.
References and Further Reading
“Beaver: Wetlands and Wildlife” by Michael Furtman
“Beavers: Boreal Ecosystem Engineers” by Chris Maser and James R. Sedell
“Beavers: My Family and Me” by Tony Angell
“The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir” by Bill Bryson
“The Beaver: Its Life and Impact” by Dietland Muller-Schwarze