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North American River Otter

Lontra canadensis

Range

  • The United States and Canada

Habitat

  • Streams, rivers, lakes, and lagoons

Diet

  • Fish
  • Crayfish
  • Crabs
  • Frogs
  • Birds’ eggs
  • Birds
  • Turtles

Weight

  • 11 – 30 lbs.

Length

  • 3 – 4 ft.

Conservation Status

River and waterway pollution and habitat destruction are major factors affecting the river otter population.

Playful mothers

When it nears time for an otter to give birth, she begins searching for a den. Instead of digging their own dens, otters often rely on the dens of other animals. Once born, otter pups begin playing at 5-6 weeks old. Female otters use play to teach their cubs survival skills. Fun activities like sliding through mud and snow teach young pups methods of evading predators.

Did you Know?

  • River otters can close their ears and nostrils to keep out water.
  • River otters have long whiskers to help detect vibrations and sense prey.
  • River otters have an extremely speedy metabolism. They use lots of energy and digest food quickly, within an hour, so they eat several times a day.

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