Project Description

North American River Otter

North American River Otters

Lontra canadensis

Animal Class: Mammals

Length: 26-42 inches

Weight: 11-30 lbs

Life Span: In the wild, they typically live 8-13 years. In zoos, they can live 21-25 years.

Diet: In the wild, they eat fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. At the Zoo, the otters are fed fish, crustaceans, chopped meat, carrots, and a nutritional biscuit.

Habitat: North American river otters range from the northern reaches of Canada all the way south to Florida. They can live in both fresh and marine waters. For their den they use the burrows of other animals or a natural hollow such as fallen logs or eroded caves.

Description: North American river otters are perfectly suited for life on the water. They have short, webbed paws and a rudder-like tail that allows quick movement and change of direction. Their skulls are streamlined with a short broad muzzle, and they have short ears to block water. Otters have long thick whiskers used for underwater and nighttime sensing.

Otters range in color from light coppery brown to blackish brown. They have white to cream colored fur on their bellies. Males are slightly larger than females.

Otters are fierce predators. They have sharp canines designed to kill prey quickly. They have musk glands, like all other mustelids, which are used to deter larger predators when frightened.

North American river otters live near water, but are very adept at surviving in various habitats. These otters form small family groups that consist of one mother, juveniles, yearlings, and helpers. The adult males will only stay with a family group until the new pups are born. They have a wide range of vocal capabilities such as barking or chirping. They use these sounds to communicate with individuals of their family groups.

Our Animals: Sam, Shadow, Frances (Frannie), and Wildcat

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