North American River Otter
- Wild: 10 to 15 years
- Captivity: Up to 25 years
- Length: 2 to 3.5 feet
- Tail length: up to 18 inches
- Weight: 10 to 33 pounds
- Females are 1/3 smaller than males.
- Historically found throughout most of the United States and Canada.
- North American River Otters live in lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal areas.
- Wild: River otters mainly eat fish and crustaceans, but will also eat birds, eggs, berries, and small mammals.
- Zoo: Our otters are offered a Zoo carnivore diet, carrot, apple, and lake smelt.
- Every other year, otters bear 2 to 4 pups in an abandoned burrow.
- Otters have delayed implantation, allowing a fertilized egg to suspend development until it is signaled to resume growth.
- This may be a response to population growth, food supplies or other factors that would affect the ability of young to thrive.
- PupвЂ™s eyes typically open at 21 to 35 days.
- Pups become independent between 1 to 1.5 years of age.
- They need to be taught how to swim.
- The mother may throw them in the water for their first swimming lesson.
- As members of the Mustelidae family, otters have specialized glands that secrete musky smelling oil for identification, marking territory, and for protection.
- Otters have adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle.
- They have four webbed feet, ears and nostrils that close tightly, a propeller-like tail, a waterproof undercoat, and an insulating outer coat.
- They are also nearsighted, which actually enables them to see better underwater.
- During a dive, they can even slow their pulse to conserve oxygen.
- The otter has a keen sense of smell and very sensitive whiskers, too.
- IUCN: Least Concern
- CITES: Not Listed
- River otters are not endangered, but their numbers are declining due to hunting, habitat loss, and pollution, so they are protected.
- Over 30,000 pelts are still sold annually in Canada and the U.S.
- CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
- IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
- Burnie, David and Don E. Wilson. Smithsonian Institution. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 2001.
- Lontra canadensis (Schreber, 1777). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/328584