Mammals of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
American Beaver - Castor canadensis
Sole representative of Castoridae in NC
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Photo by: Mark Shields
Distribution It occurs throughout NC, undoubtedly found in all counties (currently). It apparently became extirpated in the state by the early 1900's, due to relentless and uncontrolled trapping for its pelt. However, releases began in the state in the late 1930's, and it has still been increasing from multiple release points.

Occurs over nearly all of North America, with one of the widest distributions of any of our mammals.
Abundance Common and widespread across the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, but less numerous in the mountains, mainly at the lower and middle elevations. Generally uncommon to common in the mountains. It was stocked at several places in the state by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and perhaps by private interests. It is now increasing over most of the state. However, it is rare to absent in tidal areas, and does not occur along the Outer Banks, and probably is absent from other coastal islands and nearby mainland. Note that the iNaturalist website contains photos for more than half of the state's counties, and the editors have not taken the time to update the map with "Photo" records/documentation unless the county had previously no known records (white on the map).
Seasonal Occurrence Active year-round.
Habitat Beavers create their own habitat by damming streams/creeks, though they also inhabit larger creeks and rivers and some lakes and ponds that are already present. Occurs along almost all types of freshwater habitats, but favored habitat is a fairly small woodland stream, within a modest floodplain, where it can create a moderate-sized pond by damming the creek.
See also Habitat Account for General Waters and Shorelines
Behavior Primarily nocturnal or crepuscular, but can be seen at times during the day. They are well-known to build mounded/conical lodges in ponds and lake margins, though in some areas their nests are built into the banks of streams and rivers, without a lodge. They often forage on tree bark in nearby forests and woodlands.
Comments No other mammal alters the natural landscape the way that the Beaver does, at least in the United States. Its ponds provide habitat for a wide array of frogs, turtles, birds, and many other species of plants and animals that live in pond and marsh habitats. However, Beavers do damage private property, by cutting down trees for dam- and lodge-building, and their ponds can kill trees by flooding them, and pond waters can flood fields. Even though it is still considered as a game/furbearer species, and thus can legally be trapped and taken, there are regulations about the numbers that can be harvested. With each passing decade, more and more beaver ponds are dotting the landscape in the state.
Origin Native
NC List Official
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
subspecies Castor canadensis carolinensis
other_comName Beaver, North American Beaver
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all database records for species in that county.