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16 Animals that Eat Beavers (A to Z List +Pictures)

what eats beavers

Animals that eat beavers include coyotes, foxes, bears, river otters, foxes, river beavers, and eagles. Beavers will try to evade predators by hiding in amongst the brush near water where they can flee quickly.

The predominant land-based threat to beavers are large cats from the family Felidae such as the mountain lion and dog-like carnivores from the family Canidae such as coyotes and wolves.

Smaller beavers such as the mountain beaver are also known to be hunted by large predatory birds like owls, eagles, and hawks.

What Eats Beavers? (Top 9 Predators)

1. Brown Bears

Brown Bear Snoozing
Scientific NameUrsus arctos
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America, South America, Europe, and Asia
DietOmnivore

Brown bears are very large animals reaching 7 feet. However, some can extend to a height of 9 feet when standing on their hind legs. They are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plant-based food and meat.

Their diet comprises fruits, leaves, bulbs, roots, fish, and small mammals. They are also scavengers preferring carcasses of elk and bison.

Brown bears main habitat is in Northern America and Eurasia. Therefore, they prey on both the Eurasian and Northern American beavers.

Although it is easy for a beaver to escape a brown bear attack, brown bears are highly skilful, intelligent and curious animals. During winter, when beavers retreat to their hideouts, brown bears usually locate where they are hiding.

Their long claws and strong shoulders allow them to dig out beavers from their hiding place. If it is difficult to dig them out, they patiently wait until an opportune moment presents itself. Normally, they kill by turning their prey upside down while biting to make them defenseless and vulnerable.

2. Coyotes

coyote
Scientific NameCanis latrans
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAlaska southward into Central America
DietCarnivore

Coyotes will prey on both adult and young beavers. They are excellent hunters and can hunt as a pack or alone. Pack hunting gives them the advantage of killing a fully grown beaver easily. Coyotes are not picky eaters and will occasionally scavenge when food is scarce.

They are found across Northern America, thus making them the main predators of the Northern American beaver.

Beavers have an awkward walk on land mainly due to how their feet are designed. The difficulty in walking makes it easy for a coyote to hunt them, considering that it can run for up to 40 miles per hour. Therefore, they prefer to wait for beavers when there are out of the pond.

Beaver hunting by coyotes intensifies during winter when ponds freeze, forcing beavers to reside in lodges. Considering that coyotes have an excellent sense of smell, it is easy to locate where beavers are staying.

The carnivorous nature of coyotes means that more than 90 percent of their diet is meat. Furthermore, it is easy to hunt beavers compared to other prey, thus making them the greatest target for coyotes.

3. Eagles

Bald Eagle
Scientific NameAccipitridae (Eagle Family)
Type of AnimalBirds
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Beavers also fall victims to predatory birds, including eagles. They are large birds with great eyesight, strong talons, and perfect hunting skills.

Beavers are vulnerable when they leave their residence because carnivorous birds are ambush hunters and are able to catch the beaver unaware. Nonetheless, adult beavers are safe from predator birds, but kits are highly vulnerable.

They use their strong talons and beak to kill a beaver kit. Predator birds can spot a beaver from 100 meters high.

Like coyotes, most predatory birds are not picky eaters and will scavenge on beaver carcasses when there is a scarcity of food.

4. Humans

human
Scientific NameHomo sapiens
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Humans are the major threat to beaver existence. During the early years before beaver protection laws were put forth, they were hunted for their pelt, castoreum, fur, and meat.

Furs were used to make exotic garments, pelts were used as currency, while castoreum was used as medicine and a base for perfumes.

Its meat was heavily priced and even used to mark certain celebrations and events such as catholic fasting days or lent.

This belief about beaver products resulted in heavy trapping and hunting to the point of near extinction. In some parts of Europe, sighting a beaver is very rare, and governments are trying to repopulate them in some habitats where they were commonly found.

The other threat to beavers is habitat loss and conflict with humans. Some of the leading causes of beaver mortality have been water pollution from human activities.

Habitat loss is accustomed to increased water demand from the growing population forcing humans to develop water diversion and channelization projects negatively affecting the natural habitat of beavers.

Additionally, habitat degradation has been associated with intense grazing by wild and domestic animals in riparian areas. Beavers are destructive animals, and if farming is caused near their habitat, they will cause havoc to farmers.

To mitigate this, farmers usually trap or shoot down beavers. Although it is illegal, it still happens.

5. Lynx

lynx
Scientific NameLynx
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeEurope, Asia, and North America
DietCarnivore

Large wild cats such as the lynx can kill an adult beaver without much effort. They are considered the third largest predators of beavers after wolves and bears.

One factor that makes lynx predation on beavers very effective is the time they hunt, stealth hunting skills and great eyesight.

Lynx are known to hunt during the early hours of the morning or late hours in the evening. At this time, beavers are out of their ridges and lodges. Their great eyesight can spot a beaver from a far distance, and with its stealth hunting skills, it can kill a beaver without much effort.  

6. Red Foxes

red fox
Scientific NameVulpes vulpes
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeUK and Europe east through Russia to Africa
DietOmnivore

The red foxes are found across Europe and Asia, making the list of predators that prey on the Eurasian beaver. They are much smaller than adult beavers, hence preferring to prey on young beavers.

An investigative study showed a red fox sneaking into a lodge and killing a beaver kit after the adult beaver had left. The kit was estimated to be 2 months old, and the live weight was at least 2.5 kg. An adult red fox can weigh between 3.6 and 6.8 kg, thus making a few months old kits an easy target.

They have excellent smell, sight, and sound, making it easy to detect beaver kits even when in their lodges. They are fast and hunt in a pack. Thus a vulnerable or sickly adult will also fall prey to a pack of hungry foxes.

7. River Otters

otter
Scientific NameLontra canadensis
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeUSA and Canada
DietOmnivore

River Otters are amphibious mammals with excellent swimming skills. Their main habitat includes lakes, estuaries, sloughs, ponds, or along rivers, common areas where beavers live.

They prefer to eat large fish because they are easy to catch, but they also prey on immature or young beavers.

Additionally, river Otters have been known to occupy beaver lodges and dens, especially when birthing. During this period, an Otter can prey on a baby beaver; however, they avoid preying on adult beavers.

A study on whether river otters prey on beaver showed that they do on rare occasions. The study placed such incidences at 0.4 percent, with the likelihood of an otter preying on beaver high during March and April.

Note: A symbiotic relationship exists between the two mammals, with the river otter benefiting from beaver inactive lodges.

8. Wolves

wolves
Scientific NameCanis lupus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide excluding some Asia-Pacific Countries
DietCarnivore

Wolves prey on both the Northern American beavers and Eurasian beavers. Beavers dread wolves, and will immediately flee when they sigh a wolf.

Compared to other natural hunters where beavers try to scare them by slapping their flattened tail on the surface, they automatically flee on any sighting of wolves.

Wolves are much larger than beavers; thus, they prey on both adults and beaver kits. Among all the natural predators’ wolves remain the biggest threat to beavers.

Wolves are skilled hunters, matched with strong paws, fast pace, and patience. It is easy for them to kill an adult beaver. Additionally, wolves can mass kill beaver kits.

They kill beavers by striking with their strong forepaws.

Other Known Predators (9 to 16)

Less common predators for beavers (especially mountain beavers, who are smaller and find it harder to defend themselves), include:

  • Skunks
  • Hawks
  • Badgers
  • Weasels
  • Cats
  • Mountain Lions
  • Alligators
  • Great Horned Owls
  • Barred Owls

For more, I’d recommend reading this source from David Hutchinson which is about predators of the mountain beaver. I found it to be very credible.

Beaver Fact File

Beavers are the second largest rodents after the capybara and are predominately herbivorous. They are semi-aquatic but prefer to reside in or around the water most of the time. They are covered with thick furs. They also have strong jaws and teeth to cut through twigs, roots, barks, stems, and leaves as they feed.

Beavers lack good eyesight, but they complement that with an excellent sense of smell, hearing, and touch. The two main species of beavers are the North American Beaver and the Eurasian Beaver. There is also the mountain beaver, found in North America. Each of the two species of beavers has its own set of predators that prey on them.

Nature has a way of balancing its ecosystem and natural predators preying on other animals is part of the process. Apart from human assistance in the chain of predators, the rest is perfectly healthy in creating such balance.

Conclusion

Although bears, wolves, and lynx can be a major threat, beavers do not have many natural predators. Human activities remain a major threat to beavers even with legislation implemented to protect them.

Beavers are instrumental to the ecosystem. They are considered excellent engineers in constructing dams and canals. They also have dome-shaped lodges where they retreat during winter.

Beaver skills create a symbiotic relationship with other animals such as the river otter and fish. Because of the biological diversity and ecosystem function of beaver dams, beavers should be protected against detrimental human activities.

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