The American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is known as nature’s engineer due to their ability to alter their environment to create a suitable habitat to raise young. They alter the environment by:
Isle Royale is home to hundreds of beaver ponds which provide excellent habitat for moose, water birds, and an array of aquatic species.
The beaver is the largest rodent in North America, weighing between 33-55 pounds, and has distinct large, orange incisors that keep growing throughout its life. These teeth are kept short by gnawing on wood and cutting down trees. Their fur coat is dark brown and consists of two layers keep the beaver warm and dry. Their scaly, paddle-like tail serves many purposes: a rudder when swimming, a kick-stand to balance themselves standing on the back feet, a warning to intruders when slapped against the water, fat storage, and sweat glands.
Autumn is the season when the beaver count occurs on Isle Royale. The lack of snow cover, and the trees being devoid of leaves, allows flyovers of the island to count active beaver colonies. In autumn of 2018, researchers counted a total 542 active colonies. These colonies reside primarily on the island’s streams and rivers. However, some do live on in-land lakes and even the Lake Superior shoreline. Including the parents and kits, each colony could have up to 10 to 12 family members residing there. An estimated 5,500 to 5,600 individual beavers were living on Isle Royale during the time of the autumn 2018 count.
Eager to See a Beaver?
Beavers are commonly seen:
Last updated: December 9, 2020