Can you have a beaver as a pet? The short answer is simply no. Most states prohibit pet beavers and most people aren’t able to take responsible care as well. Beavers are wild animals that are not domesticated and have a lot of needs that must be met.
Is It Legal to Own a Beaver?
Since beavers are wild animals, they fall under state exotic animal statutes. Most states prohibit residents from keeping wild animals as pets, though there are a few exceptions.
- Arkansas may permit you to own a pet beaver if you can prove that you obtained it legally.
- Floridians might be able to obtain a Class III permit to have a pet beaver.
- Indiana permits residents to keep American beavers with a Class II wild animal possession permit.
- Kentucky does not expressly prohibit pet beavers, but you may need to obtain a permit and fulfill specific confinement requirements to keep one.
- Michigan notes that residents may keep beavers if they hold a permit and the animal was raised in captivity.
- Missouri residents who possess a Wildlife Hobby Permit may keep pet beavers.
- Nebraska may issue a Captive Wildlife Permit to keep beavers.
- North Dakota might permit you to keep a beaver with a license and import permit.
Texas takes a unique approach to people who keep wild animals as pets. Unless the statute specifically prohibits an animal or requires a permit to have one, you can own up to 25 non-game wildlife animals. Additionally, counties west of the Pecos River that have fewer than 25,000 people do not need permits.
Why Beavers Don’t Make Good Pets
Beavers are adorable, but like other wild animals, there are several reasons you shouldn’t keep them as pets.
1. Specific Dietary Needs
You should consider an animal’s preferred diet before deciding to keep one as a pet. Like other wild and exotic animals, you can’t just pick up a bag of food to sustain a beaver.
Beavers are herbivores, but their diets shift throughout the year as they adapt to each season. During the summer when food is readily available, they thrive on grass, greenery, fruit, and even some aquatic plants. Throughout the fall, beavers stockpile leafy branches and wood to eat throughout the winter and early spring.
Beavers prefer certain trees, namely willow, birch, poplar, and aspen. Cattails and pond lilies make excellent snacks when they can find some. Unless you have a unique local pet store, you will have trouble satisfying a beaver’s appetite!
2. Socialization and Family
Beavers are social creatures that live in close-knit family units called colonies. Interestingly, beavers are also monogamous and only accept a new partner if their mate dies. Mated couples have a litter of kits every year, meaning anywhere from one to six babies.
Kits remain with their parents for at least two years, so it’s not unusual to find a lodge with five or more beavers. This family unit remains a crucial aspect of a beaver’s development because they play with siblings, groom each other, and learn survival skills.
While you can replicate some aspects of a beaver family, it will never be the same as it is in the wild. Taking a beaver as a pet means they lead a solitary life without a mate or offspring.
3. Territorial Creatures
While beavers love their families, they are territorial creatures. Beavers mark their territory by creating scent mounds around the perimeter to warn off unrelated beavers. The mounds are little more than dirt mixed with the adult’s castoreum (secretions from anal glands), but they make an invisible fence around the lodge.
If an unrelated beaver ignores the scent mounds and ventures into their space, adults will attack them. Though they don’t usually ignore or avoid humans, beavers may attack domestic animals that enter their space. They can cause significant damage to other pets with their sharp claws and strong front teeth.
4. Chewing and Building
Beavers spend most of their time eating and building, meaning a lot of chewing. They have an innate need to chew wood, meaning beavers go after any and all wood they can get their paws on for food or lodging.
Leaving a pet beaver unattended in your home could leave you without a lick of wood anywhere. Given that beavers can take down up to 200 trees per year, you can imagine what kind of damage one could do to your home!
In the wild, beavers live in freshwater ponds, lakes, and rivers because they prefer to spend a lot of time in the water. Swimming keeps a beaver fit, helps with coordination, and allows them to reach some food supplies.
A bathtub isn’t going to suffice for any self-respecting beaver and would likely cause some physical disabilities. Swimming pools may give a beaver enough space, but it would be challenging to maintain a freshwater one.
Additionally, humans can contract Giardiasis from beaver feces. It’s extremely likely that a pet beaver would poo in your tub or pool, leaving you susceptible to “beaver fever.”
6. Sleeping Patterns
Beavers usually sleep during the day, meaning they are nocturnal creatures that work and play at night. While that may not be a huge deal for keeping smaller rodents, like gerbils and hamsters, beavers can do a lot overnight. They aren’t especially quiet about their work either!
How to Get a Pet Beaver
Obtaining a pet beaver is extremely difficult because you can’t buy them at pet stores. People who attempt to sell beavers usually remove them illegally from their natural habitats, which leaves the animal distressed.
That said, some people save orphaned beavers that were hurt, abandoned, or otherwise trapped. Usually, these individuals have a background dealing with wildlife and proper licensing to possess them.