A European Beaver (Castor fiber) in Loch Coille-Bharr one of the Beaver trial release sites in Knapdale, Argyll ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the SNH Image Library on Tel 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Eurasian beaver

Extinct from Scotland for 400 years, beavers once again inhabit our riparian broadleaved woodland next to standing waters or slow-moving streams.


The Eurasian or European beaver (Castor fiber) occurs from Western Europe eastwards to the Chinese-Mongolian border region. The world population of beavers is thought to be around 1 million individuals, most of which occur towards Eastern Europe.

Beavers inhabit riparian broadleaved woodland next to standing freshwaters or slow moving streams. Totally herbivorous, beavers will feed on herbaceous and woody broadleaved species. These monogamous animals live in family groups and favour burrows in banks as nesting places.

Beavers will sometimes:

  • build lodges of piled logs – where it’s not possible to burrow
  • dam streams – to maintain water levels
  • construct canals – to enable travel away from the main body of water

While beavers present challenges for some aspects of land use, restoration of this ‘ecosystem engineer’ will benefit a wide range of species and habitats.

Overview of the beaver’s decline

The Eurasian beaver seems to have once been widespread across Britain. Some paleontological and archaeological finds, along with written historical accounts, suggest that it was present in Scotland until the early 16th century.

Over-hunting of the beaver, particularly for its valuable pelt, appears to have been the main cause of its extinction.

Report a sighting

Find out how to submit records of mammal sightings on The Mammal Society website.

Find out more

Beavers as protected species

Reintroducing native species

News: Beaver protection - 31 May 2019

News: NatureScot welcomes protected species status for beavers in Scotland  - 1 May 2019

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