This chapter explains how beavers select their food. Direct observation of the beavers' feeding behavior shows that they consume much nonwoody vegetation that leaves little trace. Aside from trees, beavers eat grasses and forbs on land and aquatic vegetation in the pond or at the lake bottom. Beavers are “central place foragers”: from the lodge where they live, they venture out in all directions to cut plants. They forage at greater distances upstream from their main lodge than downstream. This chapter discusses the range of plants eaten by beavers and where they harvest trees, their food choice and feeding behavior, seasonal changes of food preferences, food conditioning, food caches, and food processing. It also considers cafeteria-style food choice experiments that are conducted to test how beavers respond to food provided at their pond's edge.
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