Introduction to beavers
Beavers belong to the family castoridae and the order rodentia. They can live up to approximately 20 years and are popularly known for building river dams. They are semi-aquatic, meaning that they spend part of their time in water and part of their time on land. Beavers are the second largest type of rodent, weighing an average of 35 pounds. Some known species weighed as much as 90 pounds and certain extinct species of beaver were the size of bears. Beavers are indigenous to the continents of North America and Europe.
The mating habits of the beaver are very interesting. Beavers are monogamous and remain with their mates for life. Although monogamous, a beaver will find a new mate if the first one dies. Both parents participate actively to raise their offspring, known as kits, which are in need of parental care until they are approximately two years of age.
How and when beavers mate
Beavers mate by means of sexual intercourse. Beaver fertility reaches its peak between two and a half and seven years of age. The typical mating season for beavers lasts from January to February.
The reproductive anatomy of the male beaver
The testes of the male beaver are located near the abdomen regularly. During mating season, the testes drop to a semi-scrotal position. The testicles reach their maximum size in January and remain enlarged until early April.
The reproductive anatomy of the female beaver
All female beavers within a population ovulate at approximately the same time. When the female beaver is in heat, the nipples become enlarged, the vulva swells and the urinary papillae becomes engorged and red in color.
Beavers produce one litter per year of one to four offspring. Reproduction can be difficult for beavers given the limited window of opportunity for successful fertilization. Mating season is only two months long and the female beaver is in heat for 12 hours at a time. For these reasons, the male beaver remains close to his female mate during breeding season. The female lets the male know when she is ready to mate by excreting on nearby mounds after she has ovulated. The male beaver checks the mounds frequently for the signs that his mate is ready to breed.
Gestation and birth
The gestation period for female beavers is 107-110 days. The birthing process can take anywhere from several hours to several days. The offspring are typically born in May and are already covered in fur at birth. The offspring nurse for two to three months and then begin eating the food that is foraged for them by their parents. Beavers remain under the care of their parents for approximately two years and then are sent off to find their mates and produce kits of their own.