[Tweeters] Mountain Beavers: Aplodontia rufa rufa - foods

Rob Conway robin_birder at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 22 23:54:07 PDT 2014

Mountain Beavers will trim almost any plant they can reach whether they eat it or not. Their burrows can be hundreds of feet long and up to 4 feet underground and are often lined with plant material for eating and nesting. In the Index to California Vertebrates the following describes feeding habits - the most surprising is that they climb quite high in trees and bushes to forage:

Feed on vegetative parts of plants, mostly thimbleberry, salmonberry,
blackberry, dogwood, salal, ferns, lupines, willows, and grasses. Voth (1968)
found, in western Oregon, males and nonpregnant females fed on ferns (85%),
deciduous trees (5%), and conifers (3%); lactating females (April through June)
fed on ferns (45%), conifers (34%). grasses (18%), and forbs (3%). Coprophagous.
Voth (1968) found changes in diet related to protein content of available
vegetation. Forage underground, on ground, under snow, on surface of snow, and
up to 4.5 m (15 ft) in trees and bushes. Vegetation is stored near a burrow
entrance or in underground chambers (Maser et al. 1981).

When I lived in Newcastle and in Preston (both east King Co.) they were the yard terrorists. A small colony burrowed under my 12" buried chicken wire and 6' above ground cedar fence in Newcastle and in one night literally wiped out $2000 worth of landscape plants including rhodies, ferns, hostas, dwarf conifers, BAMBOO, rhubarb, and every flowering plant in the yard. All of the plants could be seen sticking out of dozens of burrow entrances outside the fence on a steep hillside leading down to China Creek. In Preston I finally had to go on a burrow busting campaign literally using a crowbar stuck down the burrows and lifted up to remove their hiding places. This is how the owners of tree plantations handle them except by using large plowing tools to break up the burrows.

Fascinating but destructive creatures indeed.

Rob Conway
Camas, WA
45.58°N 122.44°W - elevation 310 ft.
robin_birder at hotmail.com

> Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:44:10 -0700

> From: diwill at uw.edu

> To: tweeters at u.washington.edu

> Subject: [Tweeters] Mountain Beavers: Aplodontia rufa rufa - foods


> Tweeters,


> One additional favorite food of Aplodontia in the PNW is rhododendrons,

> both native and ornamental. Last week I found half a dozen 2 foot rhodie

> branch ends (the most tender) arrayed with their cut ends at one burrow

> entrance with their leafy ends fanned out.


> Doug Will

> UW and Lake Forest Park

> diwill at uw dot edu

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