Beaver swimming, holding stick

Beavers: how to tell their sex, and 10 other amazing facts

Beavers are back in Britain after hundreds of years away – and Friends of the Earth and our supporters did our bit to help them get re-established. And there's lots to love about these rare river architects...
  Published:  16 Nov 2017    |      1 minute read

Back in 2014 we successfully campaigned to get beavers returned to the wild in Devon. Where they're allowed to get on with it, these amazing creatures can do a huge amount to help nature – improving the local habitat that provides a home for other species.

10 amazing beaver facts

Did you know that beavers are:

  1. Grand designers. A beaver’s domelike lodge (house) has an underwater entrance – so if you can’t swim, you ain’t getting in. But get this, a lodge has 2 dens (rooms). One to dry off in and the other one to live in. Not even beavers like to lie in the wet patch.
  2. Vegetarian. Munching on aquatic plants, grasses and shrubs, beavers leave the fish alone.
  3. Ice cream-flavoured. 500 years ago beavers were hunted to extinction in the British Isles for their fur and the oil in the base of their tail. This oil was used to treat headaches. Another secretion is used for vanilla flavouring.
  4. Goggle-wearers. Well, they have transparent eyelids so that they can see under water.
  5. Difficult to sex. Beavers have no external genitalia. One way to tell their sex is to check the colour of the fluid they express – brown for the male, white or clear for female. Leave it to the professionals.
  6. Tree surgeons. It’s not their only job but gnawing on tree stems stimulates new growth – creating a diverse age-range of trees.
  7. Breath-holders. They can hold their breath for 15 minutes under water.
  8. Graceful swimmers. Webbed hind feet and a rudder-like tail give them the edge in the water.
  9. Monogamous. When it comes to matters of the heart, beavers are traditionalists. Most commit to one partner – though separation and remarriage are not unknown.
  10. Conservationists. Beavers’ engineering feats improve water quality, and provide food sources and shelter for other species. How? They fell trees and sometimes build dams to create ponds and wetlands – paradise to the species that benefit from them. Species like frogs, birds and fish.
  11. Matriarchal. Females rule in beaver-world. And they can fight to the death over breeding territories.

Beavers are just one of the precious parts of nature we want to protect in the British countryside. Sadly, a quarter of British mammals are facing extinction. Help them out today and sign our petition.

One million species are endangered. Ask our government to prevent mass extinction.