The North American Beaver (Castor canadensis), also called the Canadian Beaver (which is also the name of a subspecies), American Beaver, or simply Beaver in North America, is native to Canada, much of the United States and parts of northern Mexico.
The North American beaver's preferred food is the water-lily (Nuphar luteum), which bears a resemblance to a cabbage-stalk, and grows at the bottom of lakes and rivers. Beavers also gnaw the bark of birch, poplar, and willow trees; but during the summer a more varied herbage, with the addition of berries, is consumed. They are one of the few animal species that can significantly alter the landscape, as they dam small streams to create ponds.
These animals are often trapped for their fur. Beaver furs were used to make clothing and top-hats. Much of the early exploration of North America was driven by the quest for this animal's fur. Native peoples and early settlers also ate this animal's meat. The current beaver population has been estimated to be 10 to 15 million; one estimate claims that there may at one time have been as many as 90 million.
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