Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents in the genus Castor native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. There are two extant species: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) and the Eurasian beaver (C. fiber). Beavers are the second-largest living rodents after the capybaras. They have stout bodies with large heads, long chisel-like incisors, brown or gray fur, hand-like front feet, webbed back feet and flat, scaly tails. The Eurasian beaver has a more elongated skull with a more triangular nasal bone opening, lighter fur color and a narrower tail. The animals can be found in a number of freshwater habitats, such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are herbivorous, consuming tree bark, aquatic plants, grasses and sedges. Beavers build dams and lodges using tree branches, vegetation, rocks and mud, they chew down trees for building material. Dams impound water and lodges serve as shelters. Their infrastructure creates wetlands used by many other species, and because of their effect on other organisms in the ecosystem, they are considered a keystone species.
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