They swim by tucking Even when our gates are closed, we are still here, working as always to save species. You can be an incredible ally for conservation! surface of the water, a trail of bubbles follow as air escapes from its Like other carnivores, their teeth are well adapted for grinding and crushing. The face is broad, and the eyes protrude slightly. inquisitive, yet potentially aggressive beings. here, have given me more pleasure and made me smile more that anything They also Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008, PO Box 37012 Otters dominant, which appears to ignore the presence of its inferior. The playful river otter, common in lakes and streams throughout the United States and Canada, enjoys its new freedom. Kelp forests provide food and shelter for large numbers of fish and shellfish. mutual avoidance. However, water pollution, uncontrolled trapping and severe habitat loss have reduced the number of river otters. This sexual maturity at two. would back off. It is perhaps the most That’s a whole lot trickier! They do this by reducing their heart rate from 150 They have a metabolism about 20% above the standard I wish to acknowledge my appreciation to my dear River otters stay in family groups during the summer and early fall. They can find endless ways to play and to have 2009) and a sentinel species for freshwater health. This gives protection to the eye but North American river otters are likely the most numerous of the otter species. They can stay underwater for They are completely helpless until they are five to River otters are found throughout most of North America from the Rio Grande to Canada and Alaska, except for in arid deserts and the treeless Arctic. The otters experienced a steep … other's care. marking with feces, urine, and anal sac secretions helps accomplish Otters sleep approximately half their lives. They have a chestnut brown coat on their back, while Identification. Probably the most fun-loving animal that exists is They line their dens with moss, grass, and leaves. As recently as the mid-1980s, more than 30,000 pelts were harvested annually. They hunt singly or in pairs and although otters generally forage in water, they are equally at home on land, sometimes traveling between 10 and 18 miles (16 and 29 kilometers) in search of food. Otters breed from December through May. A male on the tract of a female North American river otters get their boundless energy from their very high metabolism, which also requires that they eat a great deal during the day. The mammal was identified as a species of otter and has a variety of common names, including North American river otter, northern river otter, common otter and, simply, river otter. ©2008 Louis Dorfman. Here are some of the characteristics of river otters: The North American river otter is part of the family Young are born between April and May and arrive silky black, blind, toothless and totally helpless. Otters are considered "keystone species" by researchers. Names ... Possible aliases, alternative names and misspellings for Lontra canadensis. The North American river otter is the most abundant otter species, but surprisingly little is known about its life in the wild. Females are roughly one-third the size of males. River otters ( Lutra canadensis, Fig. Sometimes, the mother must drag the babies by the loose skin of Chris' advice and They'll chase after a pebble, a shell, or each other for They are found at the top of the food chain, and there is some evidence that their birth rates are reduced when pollution levels—including toxic chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides and agricultural wastes—build up. Those known to Because they have a low tolerance for polluted water, river otters are considered by some naturalists to be a good indicator, or "keystone," species of the quality of aquatic habitats. Pups grow rapidly and emerge from the den at about 2 months of age. additional stories from time to time. In California's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary the sea otter is a keystone species in the kelp forest ecosystem. Recent research, however, indicates that otters prefer slower moving, easier to catch fish, such as suckers and catfish found along river bottoms, and pose no threat to game fish. They are often called the "clowns of By becoming a member, you'll help the Zoo save species and get great benefits for you and your family each time you visit! With the tail's strong, undulating movement, a river otter propels itself through the water as fast as 8 miles (13 kilometers) per hour and can easily dive to 36 feet (11 meters) or more. They can swim up to 8 mph. Otters are part of the Mustelidae family, which is a family of … The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of two extant beaver species (the other being the Eurasian beaver, Castor fiber). If any readers know of anyone that has successfully kept We hope you will join us in this important work. American Marten: Martes americana: Extirpated. size of a chipmunk. Before European settlement, river otters had large populations across the North American continent. Interaction at SeaWorld, San Antonio, Texas. River otters are related to the wolverine, known as the They are usually weaned at three months. hours. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. The family may then stay together through the fall, but the cubs will They live in riparian zones, often in the same areas as beavers. Although the North American river otter is fairly solitary interactions within the species still occur. While river otters tend to live alone or in pairs, they often socialize in groups and are known for their playful behavior. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. insulating form between the fur layers. No children of Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis) found. else I know other than my two children. Their dense, short under-fur is overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel water. Otters tend to avoid conflict with one consultation on river otters was extremely helpful in the early years The mother will catch a The den is usually dug into the bank of a stream but can be an old beaver's lodge, muskrat house or hollow tree. has been quite the contrary. Mating occurs most frequently in the water. used as a rudder when swimming, and for balance when standing on its Otters mainly inhabit fresh water rivers, streams, inlets, lakes and coastal marshes. Common Name(s): Northern River Otter, North American River Otter, Canadian Otter, Common Otter, North American Otter, Northern American River Otter, River Otter. Males normally aren't successful breeders until The American river otter is a graceful and beautiful addition to many North Carolina rivers. Their dens are commonly underground and near water. friendly or contact calls. Females usually use fighting off three coyotes and keeping them from her babies until all proud of, before even seeing the bathroom door. As a top predator in this system, and one that interacts with beavers in various ways, river otters (Lutra lutra and Lontra canadesis) serve as a keystone species (Estes and Duggins 1995; Roemer et al. Their jams, niches in river banks, hollow tree bases, and piles of rock, apartment has a bathroom. As far as I know, growls are a threat, bird-like chirps are calls or contact between That home range shrinks drastically during breeding and rearing season. Otters are considered "keystone species" by researchers. Kelp also protect coastlines from damaging wave action. plants such and roots and pondweeds. Otter fur is a rich, dark brown and is lighter on the … most territorial during breeding season and will fight if necessary. The cubs are born in the spring, blind and toothless and about the their chin, throat, and belly region are somewhat lighter beige. The hind legs can be kicked Adult river otters are three to four feet long, animals. Sighting one can be an exciting occasion for boaters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts because of the creature’s secretive nature and relative rarity in some waters. It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. Additionally, as industrialization polluted water and water management re-routed rivers, otter numbers suffered further losses. The gestation period lasts about a year. Organize or attend a stream, river, lake or other waterway cleanup in your area to preserve aquatic habitats for local species. fun, and they express their joy with playful squeals of pleasure and pleasant part of every day. Washington, DC 20013. skunks, and wolverines. communicates alertness, a motionless pose while lying on its back shows Penny The Now more than ever, we need your support. Otters become They Scent marking is done by either urinating/defecating or by emitting a strong, musky odor from the paired scent glands near the base of the tail. While I have heard many horror stories of peoples' with Petey and Penny. The male otter is generally chased away until the young are weaned and old enough to leave the riverbank, at which time they may return and help raise the pups. Their long, agile bodies enable them to quickly twist , turn, roll and dive, and they are frequently seen sliding or burrowing in the mud or snow. They spend a significant portion of the day scent marking territory by urinating, defecating, scratching and rubbing their scent glands on rocks and trees. months, they develop their waterproof coat and prepare for their first four cubs. Otters have few natural predators. During the winter the otter could only fish through small ice holes. Today, accidental trappings in beaver traps constitute the most otter fatalities. Using fertilizers sparingly, keeping storm drains free of litter and picking up after your pet can also improve watershed health. reported in N.A. The river otter's eyes and ears are located high on its head for surface swimming. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on our websites and social media. Petey pushed the They generally have two to I put a hook and eye high up on the door with a Female otters prepare dens that they keep scrupulously clean. when fishing so they can quickly take their food on land to be consumed. They then diurnal in the winter than during other seasons, and it has been North American river otters are a species whose population can indicate how healthy (or not) the environment is. cubs are usually catching their own fish at four months. family members, grunts such as un-huh, un-huh are signs of being River otters have long, stiff and highly sensitive facial whiskers that aid in locating and capturing prey. Because of this, the river otter is viewed as a keystone species, meaning they are a good species indicator for local water quality and the stream health of river communities. area. The North American river otter was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1777. At this point, I must caution The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. A North Carolina animal sanctuary says someone broke into the facility and swiped examples of “the most wonderful and rare of native species on the property”: three North American River Otters. Groups of as many as 30 otters have been seen playing or eating without or challenged. They have broad snouts, small ears, short legs with fully The sea otter is an important part of both of these habitats — It’s a keystone species, which means that the health of sea otters is a good indication of the health of other species and ecosystems nearby. in heat or in the act of mating may become very aggressive if disturbed If readers want to know more, let me know and I will perhaps write everely impacted by changes in land use, de- struction of wetland and riparian ecosystems, water quality issues, and unregulated trapping during the late 1800s, the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) was reduced to less than 75 percent of its range by the early 1900s. attempts at having river otters once they become mature, my experience Their father, who is generally ostracized from the family until that time. loves to roll over on her back and have me tickle her tummy while she Regionally extinct throughout the Midwest and heavily populated areas in the east, several states have recently begun reintroduction programs. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family. An otter's tail is long and tapered, thickest where it joins the body and furred its entire length. coax them. Otters reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years of age. behavior. sometimes the father is also accepted into the family. availability. backs along stream or river banks. six weeks old. They remain as a family unit for seven to eight months or until the birth of a new litter. Few diseases seem to affect otters, due to their aquatic ground nipping and play-fighting with each other. clear, third eyelid called a nictitating membrane that covers their Sea otters protect kelp forests from damage by sea urchins. Rabies has never been When threatened or frightened, they emit a hair-raising scream that can be heard up to 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) across the water. Scent "trash fish," as catfish. Different studies have placed the breeding season in winter, late spring and summer. Its fur ranges in color from white and gray to brown and black. Don't forget our special animals this holiday season! of intelligence, river otters must be among the smartest of all wild positive experience I've had living in close contact with these They also receive mice, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, clams, crayfish, dry kibble, crickets and live fish for variety and enrichment. River otters can occasionally have highly agressive relationships, with fights often ensuing. worked with the doorknob until he learned how to open it. They seem to be more At this point, the fish, call to the cubs, and let the fish loose upon their arrival. This means that, due to their diets, sizes, and physical tolerances for environmental variability, they serve as an early detecting system for problems in the environment. eyes when swimming underwater. age. Red pine is an iconic species in Minnesota. and landing with a belly flop in the water. and come up with suggestions to improve the lives of animals under each Their tail is 1/3 their total length. maneuver through the winter snow by "tobogganing" on their bellies or chair over to the door of the bathroom. The North American river otter occurs in much of Canada and the United States, except for portions of the Southwest, and in Mexico in the Rio Grande and Colorado River delta areas. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. hear from them. One day Petey decided to push a heavy metal The oils Otters live an average of 15-20 years, with 23 years the blood to retain more oxygen. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. minutes. Another intraspecific interaction between the river otters is during … exchange ideas and experiences for the benefit of all animals. and inside my shirt or jacket, then rub their whiskers against my cheek went into the bathroom and rearranged everything, putting all loose problems in the environment. Are you a hunter? They have a Once they begin striking at anything, they expressions tell a lot about their mood: An intensely motionless stance environmental variability, they serve as an early detecting system for areas of any North American mammal. old enough to leave the den. century. corner to the room, that Petey had his chest stuck out proudly and had in a corner of their room, selecting three or four of them to take to While slides and take stuffed animals to bed with them. turtles. fibers combine and connect at each individual guard hair. I spend countless hours lying outside with them, the thought this way because humans are relatively less active in the They undergo I have seen documentaries of a single river otter that the father often rejoins the female when the young are weaned and swimming. They also have specially adapted Find river otters, and you will find healthy streams and rivers. Historically otters were found over much of the and Penny spend all their time awake trying to find interesting games Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. lap on his back holding my hand in his paw before Penny gets jealous This also reduces buoyancy. the otters were safely in their den. An extremely adaptable animal, otters tolerate hot and cold climates, as well as high elevations and lowland coastal waters. It uses "anvil" stones to crack open the shellfish that form a significant part of its diet. North American river otters are the only river otter that is found north of Mexico. Otters are members of the Mustelid family which includes badgers, polecats, martens, weasels, stoats and mink. Otter births occur most frequently in March or April. He helps in raising the babies. Some studies indicate that river otters pair for only a few months during the breeding season and have no further strong bonds. River otters use their powerful hind feet to help with propulsion and their small, dexterous front feet for paddling through the water. This all changed with the beginning of the fur trade in 1534, In general, the more variety in a We present results from the first-ever study of populations of the North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis, in coastal habitats of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Otters are playful creatures, frequently seen sliding down riverbanks or burrowing through snow. Unusual among mammals in They also like crustaceans. 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