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Beavers & Woodchucks

Both woodchucks and beavers are rodents, but they are completely different creatures. The woodchuck is actually a large ground squirrel (a marmot), while the beaver is a semi-aquatic animal. Both are herbivores, but while the woodchuck prefers berries, clover and alfalfa, the beaver eats tree bark and some aquatic plants. The resident beavers and woodchucks here at Abbe-Freeland also enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables along with their natural foods. 

Abbe-Freeland is one of a very few sanctuaries in the Northeast that has the facilities and expertise to care for orphaned and injured beavers. 


Did you know?

  • Beavers play an important role in establishing and maintaining wetlands. Beaver dams and the wetlands they create provide habitat for many sensitive plant and animal species, improve water quality, and help maintain a robust, diverse ecosystem

  • A beaver’s home is called a lodge. Lodges are little dome-shaped houses made from woven sticks, grasses and moss plastered with mud. They chip branches with their teeth to make shreddings to line their lodges. The shreddings compost and give off heat during the winter. The inside of a beaver lodge during winter is on average about 68°

  • The name “woodchuck” comes from the Algonquin name, “wuchak.” Woodchucks don't eat or "chuck" wood! They are also known as groundhogs, land beavers and whistle pigs because they emit a high-pitched whistling noise to sound the alarm if they perceive a threat

  • Beavers don't hibernate but woodchucks sure do! During their five-month-long Fall/Winter nap, their body temperature can go as low as 38° and their heart rate can slow to four beats per minute!  

Your tax-deductible donations help us give these wild ones a second chance.

We appreciate any amount you can give.  


Sunshine is a blind beaver who could not survive in the wild. However, she does amazing things here at the sanctuary! Besides being able to build, swim and find her way around her enclosure, she is a loving and caring surrogate mother to orphaned beaver kits! Sunshine loves to snuggle with the babies and teach them important beaver lessons before they're released to live wild and free. 

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