Do Beavers Eat Wood In Your Backyard?

Everyone’s heard about the woodchuck chucking wood, but what about the beaver that eats wood? Could this be happening in your backyard these days, without you even knowing?

First, let’s discuss how beavers eat. The large front teeth, called incisors, that you see on the outside of the closed mouth of a beaver actually mean they are eating something most of the time.

Just like a human, a beaver tends to eat with its mouth closed. It just has a nasty overbite that it sometimes uses to peel off bark to eat much like a human unwrapping a candy with their own fingers.

Do Beavers Really Eat Wood?

The truth is, beavers do not eat the wood or the whole tree but rather the cambium layer – the inner bark off of the tree which they just chew and then spit it out.

After that the wood is taken to form a dam or a lodge for them to live in on the water of a river. It makes for a much lighter outward style of housing, even without the need for painting as it would be in the case of humans.

Beavers have also been known to eat the softer wood just underneath the bark of the tree at times.

Mostly though, they just eat leaves and aquatic plants that can be found just outside of their new woody homes.

What Type Of Trees Do Beavers Eat And Not Eat?

What about the kind of trees beavers consume the bark of and use for housing? No beaver will enter your yard if you don’t have the right trees, after all!

Conifer trees are only eaten by beavers if every other food source is scarce in the area. However, they love willows, so you may want to consider a small indoor container willow tree rather than a live one outside.

Do Beavers Eat The Whole Tree And How Long Does It Take a Beaver To Chop Down a Tree?

Also, people can sometimes get very confused about whether or not beavers use the entire tree for eating and the building of their homes, and how long this can take. After all, you’d rather have a tree fully removed from your home than simply leave a dead stump or having to look outside and see a half-eaten tree in your yard for a week, right?

If you consider an eight-foot tree to be the average in your yard, then you’ve gotta look out! The “busy beaver” concept is most true at night in this instance, where only five minutes is needed for a beaver to do enough chewing with its incisors to fell a single eight-foot tree.

Knowing that beavers often live with their families means they could chop down half your yard in that time if they all worked together. Imagine the nightmare that replanting all those trees would be!

These rodents do find a use for the whole tree as well. Of course, as stated previously, the tree itself is used for food at the time, but the branches are widdled down a bit at the ends and stacked together for the use of lodgings.

That means every part of the tree they cut down is primed for use. Even though they do leave a stump behind as a calling card for you in the morning, and that would be an unfortunate truth you’d have to deal with.

What Size Tree Can a Beaver Cut Down?

But going on the higher end of the spectrum, how tall of a tree can a single beaver cut down? And how much wood can the most eager beaver consume at once? Or will there be a log sitting next to your stump that the beaver just couldn’t finish gnawing on before you got up in the morning?

A tree as wide as 33 inches around, that’s 3 whole feet, can be eaten through by a beaver for use in their dams and lodgings. These animals usually prefer the smaller trees though, no matter how tall, at a 2 to 6 inch diameter. That means that your big, very old trees will most likely remain safe, while your new, small trees are the ones to look out for.

But this also means how tall your tree is doesn’t matter to the busy beaver. It could be 3 feet tall or 30, the beaver only has to chew the bottom off of it and you’ll have a problem anyway.

How Much Wood Can a Beaver Eat?

As it turns out, beavers actually only eat about 1.4 to 1.5 pounds of wood per day. That means, unfortunately, you will find logs sitting around at riverbanks or next to your wildlife pond that the beavers choose to live in.

Luckily, the beavers will move your log free of charge so they have ready access to the top of the chopped tree for building their homes as well as having an abundant supply of food for a few days or maybe even over a week.

This would explain why only one tree seems to be needed by a beaver at a time, at least before it starts a family.


Beavers are known to be very hard-working animals, but surely you don’t want them working hard on your property. It’s important to eliminate these critters as they can cause a massive amount of damage, fast! Besides cutting down the trees in your backyard, the dams they build can cause flooding that will destroy your landscaping.

Westchester wildlife offers professional beaver removal services for New York and Connecticut. Our beaver control experts will humanely remove these rodents and ensure they don’t return to your property. So if you are having problems with beavers, don’t hesitate to contact us today.