Is that a beaver? A mink? A muskrat? Out in the wilderness, it’s often hard to differentiate animals that have similar coloring, habitats, and physical features. However, there are some distinct differences that can help you identify what you are looking at. There are several animals that look like beavers, a few of which are often mistaken as beavers, that we’re going to take a look at in this article.
In order to be able to identify the differences between the animals listed above and beavers, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of a beaver. Beavers have large stocky bodies with a brownish, yellow coat and a scaly, flat tail. They have webbed rear feet and like to spend the majority of their time in the water. They are herbivores and build dams in order to have a safe place to live.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what the beaver looks like, we can identify the differences in animals that look similar to them.
7 Animals that Look Like Beavers
These include muskrats, nutria, American minks, river otters, groundhogs, capybaras, and quokka.
Muskrats often get mistaken as beavers because they both have brown fur and are semi-aquatic. In the water they look almost identical; however, on land, their differences become much more apparent.
Muskrats are much smaller than beavers only weighing about 3 to 4 pounds. Additionally, muskrats have small, rat-like, hairless tails. While beaver’s tails are paddle-shaped and scaly. Finally, while muskrats do eat vegetation, you will rarely find one with a tree branch in its mouth.
Nutria is much larger than muskrats weighing on average 15 to 20 pounds. However, beavers are still much larger weighing almost 50 pounds.
Once again they often get confused with beavers because of their dark brown fur. However, their fur is much coarser than a beaver’s, even when it gets wet. Like muskrats, they also have hairless, rat-like tails.
Another easily differentiating factor is that nutria has yellow to orange incisors. While these can only be spotted while eating, it will help you easily identify the type of animal you are looking at.
3. American Mink
The American mink is a member of the weasel family. While its brown fur often makes it mistaken as a beaver, it is anything but. The American mink is a predator, while beavers are omnivores.
Minks are constantly on the move along river banks looking for prey. They will swim across the water, but never spend long periods of time in it. Minks have a long, slender body and frequently hunch their backs. They also have furry tails.
4. River Otter
The river otter’s often get confused with minks and beavers. They have much longer bodies and tails than minks. Additionally, they have a dog-like roundish face. They also hunt fish, which is uncommon for a mink.
River otters spend a lot of their time in the water, which is why they often get confused as beavers. They are much more curious than beavers and it’s not rare to have one swim close by to check you out.
5. Ground Hogs
Groundhogs sometimes referred to as the land beaver, are often mistaken as beavers. While they do have similar physical appearances, there are some distinct differences. Groundhogs have short fluffy tails, while beavers have long flat tails that help them swim. Additionally, groundhogs only weigh about 7 pounds on average.
Aside from their physical differences, groundhogs have a lot of different personality traits than beavers. Groundhogs prefer to burrow in large open fields, while beavers build dams in rivers. Additionally, while you can find beavers on land, you’d be hard-pressed to find a groundhog in water.
Capybaras are almost identical to beavers, except for a few key differences. Capybaras are much larger than beavers and have the same head shape as a hippo. Beavers have rounder bodies and faces than capybaras. They both a webbed feet and similar fur.
Additionally, unlike beavers, capybaras chew the cud and eat their poop to aid in the digestive process. Other than that they have very similar diets. Capybaras spend more of their time on land than beavers do.
Sometimes known as the happiest animal on earth because of their faces, the quokka looks almost like a smiling beaver. The quokka’s brown fur and round face give them the resemblance of a beaver. They also enjoy eating leaves, stems, and bark.
It would be heard to mix up a quokka with a beaver as quokkas only live on the Rottnest Island and Bald Island in Australia, and beavers are only found in North America. They do look somewhat similar in appearance though. Unlike beavers, quokkas have the ability to climb trees and don’t go in the water.