Everything You Wanted to Know About Beavers Digging

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Published on April 6, 2022
Last Updated on October 11, 2023

A lot of people are fascinated by beavers because they are one of only a few animals that are capable of modifying their habitat. If you have ever seen beavers digging, you may have wondered what they were doing. 

Beavers are actually very good diggers, and there are several reasons why these critters dig. On this page, we’re going to discuss everything you wanted to know about beavers digging. Keep reading to learn more. 

The Beaver’s Digging Behavior

In North America, it’s very common to see a beaver. While these animals are very interesting, they have three habits that can cause a lot of damage to properties:

  • Chewing
  • Damming
  • Digging

There are many reasons why Beavers dig, which we will further explore in this article. However, beavers typically don’t dig anywhere and everywhere. These animals are careful about where they select, especially when building a dam. Beavers often dig at land near wetlands that appear unoccupied.

When it comes to finding the right area to dig, beavers are known to be excellent explorers. They usually look for a low-gradient landscape that is by small streams.

Are Beavers Good At Digging?

Beavers are known to be very good at digging. These critters have front paws that are similar to the human hand, but with long sharp claws.

The claws are strong and well-suited for digging, allowing the beaver to dig tunnels and build dams. Since the beaver has human-like paws, it is capable of performing a lot of tasks needed to build a habitat. Digging is simply one of many.

Why Do Beavers Dig?

Beavers always have a purpose for digging. Unlike dogs, who simply dig for fun, a beaver digs for habitat and for protection. Beavers dig dens and tunnels underground to escape from predators. They do this because they are limited in places to retreat to when a predator is near. 

When beavers dig tunnels to escape from predators, the space is typically quite small. They will dig a den that is big enough to hide in and that will be enough.

These dens are typically small and scattered, so they don’t create a big underground maze connected to each other. While the dens may be small, they can still cause damage to property.

Beavers also dig when they need to tend to their habitat. It’s common for a beaver to dig up mud to use it for the dam or lodge.  Beavers will dig for many different reasons when they are working in their habitat. 

Do Beavers Dig Holes, Trenches, Moats, or Canals?

Don’t underestimate a beaver’s digging abilities. Those long claws help the beaver successfully dig holes, trenches, moats, and canals when they need to.

While you would expect to see a beaver digging a hole, a canal is quite another story. Canals are typically long and take a lot of effort to construct, as the beaver will have to chew through roots and other obstacles.

While it does take a lot of work, beavers can construct a canal that they can travel through. This helps them gather food and the supplies that they need to construct their lodge.

Once the beaver has a canal constructed, it can build a network of new canals connecting. This opens up the opportunity to scavage more food and building materials.

Can Beavers Dig Deep Holes?

Beavers are capable of digging some pretty big holes. Often property owners that find holes in their landscape wonder what animal could be responsible for them. While you can’t guarantee what animal dug the hole without seeing it, many people can get a good guess by looking at the size of the hole.

If the hole is 8 inches or deeper, then it’s possible that a beaver could be responsible for it. One of the main reasons a beaver will dig a hole is to hide from a predator, so the hole needs to be big enough to keep the beaver secure. However, beavers typically aren’t excessive when digging holes and don’t make them too deep.

Do Beavers Dig Underwater?

Beavers do dig underwater. These critters will build a lodge to live in out of mud, logs, and sticks. The entrance to their lodge is underwater, which is something the beaver created by digging. This underwater entrance is important for the beaver’s safety. It allows them entrance to a secure area where predators can’t get them.

While Beavers are known to build dams to retain water levels around their lodging, this typically only happens in rivers and streams that are less than 10 meters wide. If the water exceeds 10 meters, the beaver will dig a tunnel or burrow underwater.

These underwater tunnels and canals can be very useful to beavers. Not only can they hide from predators better, but they can also use the canal to bring wood from one side of the river to the other.

Do Beavers Dig For Other Reasons?

Beavers have multiple reasons for digging. Like most animals, they are driven by food. Beavers are herbivores, feasting mostly on grass, leaves, woody plants, and herbs. Digging can help them find more food sources and bring their food back to the lodge safely.

When you find a beaver’s lodge, what you don’t see is the entrance. Beavers dig underground entrances as well as tunnels and canals. As we mentioned earlier, beavers modify their habitat, meaning they are responsible for building their lodges. Beavers use many different materials that they can find to build lodges and dams.

The tunnels and canals that the beavers dig allow them to directly bring wood and other materials they find back to the lodge for building.

How Are Beavers Adapted For Digging?

Beavers are adapted for digging because of the way their front paws and claws are shaped.

While beavers are a rodent, their front paws are a similar shape to hands, making it easier for them to grasp. The strong and sharp claws can easily get through packed dirt. If roots or plants get in the way while digging, Beavers can use their strong teeth to get through.


  • Tommy

    Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of Floofmania.com. I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.

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