What Do Beavers Eat? What you need to know!

Otters are carnivores, which means they need to eat meat. Their webbed feet and whiskers make them excellent predators, even in the dark or when the water is cloudy. However, the exact diet of a beaver depends on the species and its habitat. In fact, there are 13 species of otters living in both saltwater and freshwater habitats around the world. In this article, we will discuss the different otter species, where they live, and what foods they usually eat.

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Where Do Beavers Live?

beaver at rock_Joanna Jankowski_Pixabay

Species of otter can be found all over the world. Otters can be aquatic, semi-aquatic, or marine, meaning they must have access to a body of water. Some otters, such as the cape otter, are found in a variety of different habitats, from rainforests to coastal areas. Other otter species require very specific habitats, such as the sea otter, which lives in the coastal areas of the North Pacific Ocean.

Species of otter found in the United States are the North American river otter and sea otter (California and Alaska).

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Beaver Diet by Genus

lutra

beaver in lutra The genus is the river otter, including the North American river otter, sea otter, long-tailed otter, Eurasian otter, spot-necked otter, smooth-coated otter, southern river otter, and hairy-nosed beaver. They tend to eat aquatic animals such as turtles, frogs, insects, crustaceans, and, of course, fish. They also occasionally eat birds and even small mammals.

Pteronura

The species belonging to this genus are the giant otter. The giant otter is the largest otter species, reaching 6 feet in length and weighing over 60 pounds. They mainly eat fish, but they occasionally eat other animals such as birds, crustaceans, and even snakes.

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aonyx

Beavers in the genus aonyx without claws. The three species in this category are the Capeless clawed otter, the Asian small clawed otter, and the Congo clawless otter. These otters tend to eat crabs, fish, worms and frogs.

Enhydra

Last but not least, beavers with the genus Enhydra is a sea otter. There are three subspecies of sea otters: the Asian or Russian sea otter, the Californian sea otter, and the Alaskan sea otter. They tend to eat invertebrates such as sea urchins, mussels, crabs, and clams. They use rocks they find in the ocean to help them open their hard-shelled prey so they can eat the soft inside.

giant otter_F.  Muhammad_Pixabay

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How Do Beavers Benefit the Ecosystem?

Beavers are very important to aquatic ecosystems. In particular, sea otters maintain kelp forests by eating large numbers of sea urchins, which feed on seaweed and other types of seaweed. Seaweed forests are a source of food and shelter for many different species. When sea urchins become overpopulated, they remove other important species from the food source, effectively starving them. Because sea otters have a major impact on ecosystems, they are considered a key species. Unfortunately, like many otter species, they are currently threatened with extinction due to human activities such as the fur trade, oil spills, and fishing nets.

stinking beaver_Bernd Hildebrandt_Pixabay

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Conclusion

There are many different species of otter living in habitats around the world and they vary quite a bit in size. However, all species of otter require a water source to some degree, which means they have something in common in terms of the environment they inhabit and the type of food they eat. Most otters mainly feed on aquatic animals such as fish, crustaceans, turtles, and frogs. Importantly, sea otters also eat invertebrates such as sea urchins, which help maintain the balance of coastal habitats that depend on seaweed forests. By raising awareness about the dangers of sea otters and other otter species, we hope to help prevent the extinction of these animals, as they are so important to aquatic ecosystems.

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Featured Image Credit: Piqsels