Chordates • Earth.com

American beaver

(Castor canadensis)

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Description

The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of two extant beaver species, along with the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). It is native to North America and introduced in South America (Patagonia) and Europe (primarily Finland and Karelia). In the United States and Canada, the species is often referred to simply as "beaver", though this causes some confusion because another distantly related rodent, Aplodontia rufa, is often called the "mountain beaver". Other vernacular names, including American beaver and Canadian beaver, distinguish this species from the other extant beaver species, Castor fiber, which is native to Eurasia. The North American beaver is one of the official national wildlife of Canada symbols and is the official state mammal of Oregon and New York. The beaver is the largest rodent in North America and competes with its Eurasian counterpart, the European beaver, for being the second-largest in the world, both following the South American capybara. The European species is slightly larger on average but the American has a larger known maximum size. Adults usually weigh from 11 to 32 kg (24 to 71 lb), with 20 kg (44 lb) being typical. In New York, the average weight of adult male beavers was 18.9 kg (42 lb), while non-native females in Finland averaged 18.1 kg (40 lb). However, adults of both sexes averaged 16.8 kg (37 lb) in Ohio. The species seems to conform to Bergmann's rule, as northern animals appear to be larger. In the Northwest Territory, adults weighed a median of 20.5 kg (45 lb). The American beaver is slightly smaller in average body mass than the Eurasian species. The head-and-body length of adult North American beavers is 74–90 cm (29–35 in), with the tail adding a further 20–35 cm (7.9–13.8 in). Very old individuals can exceptionally exceed normal sizes, weighing more than 40 kg (88 lb) or even as much as 50 kg (110 lb) (higher than the maximum known for the Eurasian beaver). Physician naturalist Edgar Alexander Mearns' 1907 report of beaver on the Sonora River may be the earliest report on the southernmost range of this North American aquatic mammal. However, beavers have also been reported both historically and contemporarily in Mexico on the Colorado River, Bavispe River, and San Bernardino River in the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Mammalia
Order:Rodentia
Family:Castoridae
Genus:Castor
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