I'm just curious which animals would peel bark off a tree like this:

enter image description here

It's a riparian setting in the Mid Atlantic region. I was thinking maybe a beaver?


1 Answer 1


That was definitely a beaver. Nothing else has quite the chewing power of a beaver, for example accoring to Wikipedia, these trees were cut by beavers in a single night.

Based on the color of those chips, I would say that you were there less than a week if not sooner from when the beaver was chewing the tree down.

The reason that I don't think its a porcupine, is because of the riparian setting and because porcupines usually chew much higher up on a tree.

Fun fact, beaver's teeth never stop growing.

  • And probably a young beaver. Notice the difference between the question and answer photos. The question photo, is not the work of an experienced worker who getting the job done. More like a teenager experimenting with a new discovery. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 13:36
  • 2
    @JamesJenkins: Do you have a source for the behaviour differences of young beavers? I'd be interested to read up on that. I have seen a ton of beaver traces with lots of rather wacky/nonsensical work (at least from our rational point of view) ... never assumed that this might be the work of 'inexperienced' animals so far.
    – fgysin
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 8:33
  • @fgysin My beaver knowledge and experience is getting rusty, but as I recall young beavers are ejected from the home and travel to find partners and new homes. The rest is supposition. The image in the question is on a forest path. The images in the answer has no wasted motion. Assuming the question image is made by a beaver, it is not make by an adult building a dam. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 11:05
  • Could also be that the beaver was feasting on the tree bark, as they do often. Mostly they go for the fresh young bark/branches/foliage near the top of the tree, but maybe this one was in the mood for something a bit... crunchier... :)
    – fgysin
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 12:13
  • Beavers gnaw bark for food as the question photo indicates. The answer photo shows a tree felled for winter consumption, possibly underwater in a dam construction but not necessarily. Beavers use water to move branches more easily and safer (predators); most dam bark material will be consumed over winter.
    – michael
    Commented Jan 7, 2017 at 13:59

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