Beaver Mumblings

photo of American Beaver from iStock PhotoIt is difficult to capture great soundscapes that feature the voices of mammals. Why? Because most mammals keep pretty quiet as they go about their business. Sure, coyote and wolf packs sound off with great enthusiasm every now and then, squirrels and chipmunks chatter and chip when excited, and deer snort and bound away when alarmed. But for the most part, mammals are a quiet lot and it is a true gift when we humans get hear their more intimate mumblings—sounds they make as they “talk to one another” in social situations (for example: calls given during courtship and mating, sounds made by parents communicating with young, and the talkings between young in groups).

The following recording puts your ear at the entrance to a beaver den.

It was early September of 1994 and I was sitting at the edge of a small beaver-dam pond in a forested area near Ithaca, New York. It was almost midnight when the mumblings began. Listen for a breathy growl followed by scraping sounds, and then finally the animated moans of young beaver in and around the den. Notice also the hissy sound of water pouring over the beaver dam at the opposite edge of the pond:

Moaning of young Beaver in and around their den, 11:30 pm, 4 September 1994, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, near Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

Is this cool or what? You’d never guess that beaver make such sounds. I only became aware of the moaning when I camped near a beaver hut one night in the autumn of 1988. On that occasion, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the strange, otherworldly sounds. I pulled myself out of my tent and went to investigate. Sure enough, the muffled moans were coming from inside the beaver’s den. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any recording gear with me. But at that very moment, I vowed to get a great soundscape recording of this utterly endearing sound-event. Six years later, after a number of failed attempts, I finally snagged a great one!

Let me know what you think!


  1. When you listen to this recording through headphones, it sounds like you’re in the den with the beavers. Is it just me, or after the first growl, I hear other, softer bellow-like sounds from an adult beaver? The bellows are farther away than the moans. I’ve seen beavers before, but I’ve never heard one make a sound.

  2. Just found your website! Fabulous! This is a wonderful recording. What a great experience listening to this interaction. Thank you so much! I agree with Sharon— listening to the sounds on your web site as I work at the computer is a stress release and transports me to a place I would rather be!

  3. So enjoyable! At the closing perfunctory plonk-splash, I could not help imagine mom beav saying, “Enuff already, geroff me you piggy pups, snuggle up now, I’m takin a break!”

    A few minutes tuned in in to Sounds of Nature must be the brightest spot of any day.

  4. so adorable! What a wonderuful recording!

    Years ago, I heard baby musrats make similar sounds when I passed by in my kayak and the boat temporarily (seconds) separated the mother from the two babies. I remember how surprised I was to hear them communicating to each other.

    • Yes, that’s the sound of the beavers scraping bark off tree limbs that they’ve stored in the water (for winter food). It is the most familiar and common sound one hears at beaver colonies at night.

  5. My God, that’s lovely! It’s amazing to me how babies of so many species sound similar. My dog Uumaa’s puppies sounded like human babies, and these young beavs sound like her pups. The splashes of water are nice too. How old were these youngsters?

    • Beaver mate in January or February, I believe. Gestation is around three months. So the young are probably born in May. That means these “kits” are around three months old. I’m not at all sure how long they continue to moan. It is probable that adults make similar sounds (adults certainly growl). Anybody out there a beaver expert?

      • I have been observing one colony of Beavers for eleven years. They have become very comfortable with my presence though I haveNEVER hand fed them. I do bring them poplar, apples and corn almost daily. They come when I clap knowing that I will have something for them. These sounds are what they often make when they bring poplar into the lodge where the babies are waiting for treats. I find they do not share well and often make these noises to warn the kits off from what they are eating. Usually they allow the kits to bite off a branch for themselves but all the time moaning or whining like that. The higher pitched voices are those of the the kits become more independent they have less patience with them and sometimes lunge at them to fend them offEach parent seems to have their favorite kit with . whom they will often share or groom eachother. I find Beavers are very vocal. I have even heard the male call all the way across the pond for his mate and she answers.

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