Canada’s National Animal: The Beaver

When it comes to national symbols, every country has its own unique choices. These symbols represent the nation’s values, culture, and identity. In Canada, one of the most distinctive and beloved national symbols is the beaver. This humble, industrious, and furry creature is not only Canada’s national animal but also an icon that embodies the country’s spirit and character. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history, significance, and characteristics of the beaver as Canada’s national animal.

History of National Animals

The Concept of National Animals

National animals are emblematic figures chosen to represent a country’s unique identity and characteristics. These animals hold cultural and historical significance and often serve as a symbol of national pride. Countries select national animals based on their connection to the nation’s history, culture, and natural environment.

Canada’s First National Animal

Canada’s fascination with national animals dates back to the 19th century when the first national animal, the beaver, was unofficially adopted as a symbol of the country.

The Beaver: Canada’s National Animal

Beaver in Canadian Culture

The beaver’s role in Canadian culture is undeniable. Its image can be found on everything from currency to official emblems. It’s a source of inspiration for artists and a symbol of hard work and determination.

Why the Beaver?

The beaver was chosen as Canada’s national animal due to its significant role in the country’s history. Fur trading was a major industry in Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the beaver’s fur was highly sought after. It became a symbol of Canada’s economic success and exploration.

Significance of National Animals

National animals are important as they serve as a point of national unity and pride. They connect the past, present, and future of a nation, reminding its citizens of the values and traditions that define the country.

Beaver’s Characteristics

Physical Characteristics

Beavers are known for their distinctive appearance. They are large rodents with brown fur, webbed hind feet, and a flat, scaly tail. These features make them perfectly adapted to their semi-aquatic lifestyle.

Habitat and Behavior

Beavers are primarily found in wetlands, ponds, and streams. They are known for their engineering prowess, building dams and lodges that create their own ideal habitats.

Beaver’s Impact on Ecosystem

Beavers play a crucial role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems. Their dam-building activities create wetlands, which provide habitat for a variety of plants and animals.

Conservation Efforts

While beavers are not endangered, their populations are still monitored to ensure their continued presence in the Canadian landscape. Conservation efforts focus on maintaining healthy wetland ecosystems and preventing human-wildlife conflicts.

Interesting Facts about Beavers

  • Beavers’ teeth never stop growing, so they need to chew on wood constantly to keep them in check.
  • Beavers have a highly developed sense of smell, hearing, and sight.
  • A group of beavers is called a “colony.”
  • Beavers are excellent swimmers and can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes.

The Beaver in Canadian Symbols

Beaver on the Canadian Nickel

The beaver is prominently featured on the Canadian five-cent coin, known as the “nickel.” This coin has been in circulation for decades and serves as a reminder of the beaver’s importance in Canadian history.

Beaver as a Provincial Symbol

Beyond its national significance, the beaver also appears on the coats of arms of several Canadian provinces, further emphasizing its importance in regional identity.

The Controversy Surrounding the National Animal

Alternatives to the Beaver

While the beaver is a beloved symbol, there have been discussions about other animals that could represent Canada. Some have proposed the polar bear or the Canada goose as alternative national animals, highlighting the diverse wildlife in the country.

Global Recognition

Canada’s national animal has also gained recognition on the global stage. The beaver’s iconic status transcends national borders, making it an internationally recognized symbol of Canada.


In conclusion, the beaver stands as a symbol of Canada’s history, culture, and the remarkable relationship between its people and the environment. As the national animal, it represents the hard work, determination, and resourcefulness that Canada holds dear. This industrious rodent continues to be an integral part of the nation’s identity, both in its symbolism and its contributions to the Canadian landscape.

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