Do American Beavers Make Good Pets? (Are They Even Legal?)

Beavers do not make good pets because, as wild animals, they are impossible to train, difficult to care for, and very challenging to house. Beavers can become very aggressive and cause mess and destruction in your home!

Not only do beavers not make good pets, but keeping them in captivity is also inhumane and illegal in most places.

Beavers are keystone species that should be left alone to thrive in the wild. Many wildlife enthusiasts argue that they are not doing any harm to the species by owning them privately. I beg to disagree.

Why Beavers Don’t Make Good Pets

I can give you tons of reasons why beavers don’t make good pets but the most important point I want to make is that beavers are wild animals that play a very important role in the ecosystem. They should be left alone in their natural habitats so they can thrive and continue to do good things for the environment.

There are so many reasons why beavers don’t make good pets but let me start with the following:

Beavers Need A Lot Of Outdoor Space

Beavers in the wild live in areas where there are plenty of trees, grasses, and bushes near lakes, rivers, streams, and big ponds where there are plenty of aquatic plants for food and where they can build their dams. Beavers are semi-aquatic animals that live most of their lives in water.

Owning a beaver will require a very large property with ample outdoor space including a body of water that mimics a pond, river, or lake with abundant foliage.

Your home and family pool are not enough, and frankly, not the right environment for a beaver to thrive.

Beavers Are Social Animals That Need To Be Around Other Beavers

Beavers naturally live in colonies and are highly social animals. They do not survive as solitary animals. Beavers need to live in groups, mate, groom each other, make dams together, and play. Unless you are prepared to keep a whole colony of at least 15 beavers, forget about it!

Keeping a wild social animal like the beaver, in captivity can cause depression and frustration which can lead to aggressive behavior and even be dangerous to you and the animal.

When you keep a beaver as a pet, you are keeping them from finding a mate and reproducing. Breeding is one of the main instincts of wild animals. By owning them, you are contributing to the demise of a keystone species.

Beavers Have Very Specific Dietary Needs

You can’t just go to a pet store and buy a bag of beaver food. It doesn’t exist!

In the wild, beavers eat a variety of grass, leaves, fruits, tree bark, and aquatic plants depending on what’s available during the season.

Beavers prefer certain trees like birch, aspen, willow, and poplar, and love aquatic plants like pond lilies and cattails. Unless, you have all these and more, or have a very unique pet store that can provide you with all their dietary requirements, get a dog or a goldfish instead.

Beavers Are Territorial Animals

Beavers mark their territories by building mounds made of mulch or dirt mixed with castoreum, a vanilla-smelling secretion from their anal glands. (It sounds bizarre, but that’s how it is!)

They feel threatened when other beavers and other animals cross their marked areas, and they’re quick to attack and become extremely defensive when their territory is invaded.

This means you, your family, and other pets can be in danger. Beavers have very sharp teeth and claws. Although beavers are known to mostly ignore humans, they cause severe bodily harm to other animals like your pet dogs and cats.

Beavers Are Nocturnal Animals

Beavers are nocturnal animals that work and play at night. They are not really especially quiet about their nighttime routine, and they can cause quite a ruckus!

Their nighttime disturbances can cost you your sleep and even start problems with your neighbors! 

Add to that, that a pet that sleeps when you’re awake and is active when you sleep, isn’t much of a companion.

Think twice before you decide to own a beaver.

The Beaver Is A Wild Animal That Has Not Been Domesticated

Beavers have not been domesticated, unlike cats and dogs. Their wild instincts are just too strong, which means that it is impossible to train them. They will gnaw, build, poop, swim, and play to their heart’s delight, which might seem like fun in the beginning, but not in the long term!

They can cause plenty of property damage, even to other animals no matter how hard you try to tame them.

Beavers Will Gnaw At Anything

Chewing and gnawing on wood is one of the natural instincts of a beaver. They constantly eat and gnaw on sticks and wood all day. It is also another way to keep their front teeth from growing too long.

Beavers can go through up to 200 trees per year. If your outdoor enclosure cannot provide the numbers, they will turn to anything they can chew on including your furniture and other wooden materials. Maybe even your walls!

Imagine the destruction they can cause to your home and neighboring areas. Are you ready for that kind of trouble?

Beavers Are Health Risks

Beavers poop everywhere because in the wild, there are no rules and there is no hope of potty training them. They poop in the water and on land. 

Beavers are most likely to poop in your pool, inside your house, and practically anywhere. You and your family members can contract Giardiasis which causes mild to severe diarrhea, nausea, dehydration, bloating, stomach cramps, fatigue, weight loss, and greasy stools.

This is more commonly known as beaver fever. It’s just not worth the risk.

Owning A Beaver is Illegal In Most States

Beavers are not meant to be kept in captivity as pets. It is illegal to own them in most states in the US. 

Here is a list of all the states that prohibit owning beavers as pets:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska 
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Where In The US Can I Legally Own A Beaver?

A few states allow owning beavers as pets but there are strict rules and restrictions. 

Arkansas Allows Individuals To Own A Pet Beaver Through A Special Permit

The state of Arkansas will allow its citizens to own a pet beaver only if they can provide evidence that they obtained the animal legally. This is hard to do because selling beavers is illegal and there are hardly any legal breeders. Getting the permit is very difficult.

Florida May Allow Owning Of Beavers Through A Class III Permit

Florida may allow beavers as pets but with much difficulty. Florida issues a Class III Wildlife Animal Possession Permit to anyone who can provide the necessary requirements (but there are many requirements!)

Indiana Issues Class II Permits

Indiana allows its citizens to own a beaver as a pet through the Class II Wildlife Animal Possession Permit if they can pass all legal requirements.

Kentucky Does Not Expressly Prohibit Owning Beavers As Pets

Although Kentucky does not expressly prohibit keeping beavers as pets, they do require a permit and have strict confinement requirements to keep one.

Michigan Allows Beavers As Pets

The state of Michigan only allows beavers to be kept as pets through a permit if you can prove that they were raised in captivity. It might be difficult to find such beavers in the first place.

Missouri Is Selective In Giving Permits

Missouri only allows individuals to own a beaver if they can obtain a Wildlife Hobby Permit which requires that the animals be legally obtained and housed in humane and sanitary facilities.

It Is Legal To Own A Pet Beaver In Nebraska

Nebraska allows individuals to keep beavers as pets through a Captive Wildlife Permit that has strict requirements that need to be fulfilled.

North Dakota Allows Beavers As Pets Under Strict Regulations

North Dakota issues a license and an import permit for individuals to keep a pet beaver under humane conditions.

It Is Legal To Own Beavers In Texas

Texas is probably the least strict when it comes to allowing beavers as pets. You only need to secure a permit to own one.

Why Getting A Pet Beaver Illegally Is A Very Bad Idea?

Getting a pet beaver is a bad idea but getting it illegally is so much worse. There are strict policies against the illegal possession of wild animals in the country and the repercussions are severe.

Getting A Beaver Illegally Cuts Your Access To A Vet

Access to a beaver expert or a wildlife vet is hard as it is. There are not many wildlife vets and organizations out there who can help you.

Getting a beaver illegally makes it even impossible to gain access to a wildlife vet if there is one, because they can (and probably will) report you to the authorities.

Wildlife vets are strongly against the illegal capture and keeping of wildlife animals. They will not hesitate to take away the animal and turn you over to the police.

There Is Not Enough Expert Information To Rely On

Having no access to wildlife vets for your illegally-owned beavers, you will have to rely on your own research and efforts.

Unfortunately for you, there is not a lot of expert information available about beavers and how to keep them. Libraries and the internet are no help. Believe me, I’ve done my research. 

It Is Inhumane and Animal Cruelty

Illegal traders of wildlife animals are not known to be kind and provide proper care to these animals. By obtaining a beaver illegally, you are supporting the abuse of these animals and their possible extinction.

Even if you obtained a beaver legally, it is still inhumane and cruel to these animals to keep them in captivity.

Wild animals belong in, well, the wild! Your home is meant for humans and domesticated animals, it is not a place for a beaver.

What Should I Do If I Find An Abandoned Baby Beaver?

It is highly unlikely that you will find abandoned baby beavers unless you are intentionally looking for them. But in case you do, call your local wildlife veterinarian, local wildlife organization, local zoo, or the animal department.

While waiting for help, remember the following:

Do Not Touch Or Pet Them

Keep the baby safe by keeping it in place and keeping it company while waiting for rescue. Do not touch it, pet it, or cuddle it. 

If the space they are in is not safe or sanitary for the baby beaver, you can move it to a better place by using a soft, clean cloth when scooping it. 

Keep it in a warm, dark area like a box and cover them with a warm blanket.

Do Not Provide Food Or Water

If you are not a wildlife expert or a vet, please do not feed them or give them water. Your intentions to help may be good but you can cause more damage to the small animal if you do.

Unless you are instructed by an expert or the authorities, just keep them safe until help arrives.

Do Not Transport The Baby Beaver

Unless instructed to transport, keep the baby beaver where it is. Keep it safe and warm while waiting for the experts to take over.

Transporting baby beavers without the proper knowledge and equipment can cause health damage, and be very dangerous to the animal.

If instructed to transport a baby beaver, use a pet carrier or a box with proper ventilation and keep them in a warm (but not too warm), dark, and quiet environment.

Hand It Over To The Authorities Quickly

Do not waste time, hand it over to the authorities as fast as you can. An abandoned baby beaver has a low chance of survival without its mother.

Call the experts right away, follow their instructions to the tee, and hand them over with care.

Do Not Keep Them As Pets

You are legally required to hand over abandoned baby beavers to the authorities as soon as possible. It is illegal to care for or keep wild animals without the proper license or permit. It is not safe for you and the baby animal.

You can’t keep a wild animal just because you pity them, have grown attached to them, or find them cute. 

There is a reason laws are in place to keep wild animals in the wild. Why keep a wild beaver when you can have a dog or a cat who are excellent loyal pets?

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