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Life history traits (averages) Female sexual maturity Male sexual maturity Gestation 57 days Weaning A few of the caves were used to rear young. [15], North American river otters can produce a snarling growl or hissing bark when bothered, and a shrill whistle when in pain. [15], The fur of the species is short (guard hairs average 23.8 mm (0.94 in)), with a density of about 57,800 hairs/cm2 (373,000 hairs/in2) in the midback section. [25][32][33] Bottom-dwelling species, which have the tendency to remain immobile until a predator is very close, are susceptible to North American river otters. During the breeding, the male grabs the female by the neck with his teeth. The lifespan of other species like the giant river otter or the European otter is more or less the same. The North American river otters may compete with the American mink (Mustela vison) for resources. Environmental disasters, such as oil spills, may increase levels of blood haptoglobin and interleukin-6 immunoreactive protein, but decrease body mass. [51], During the winter and spring, when the water levels were higher, North American river otters had a greater tendency to prey upon crayfish (73% of scats had crayfish remains) rather than fish. more Meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters. Eyes are small and placed anteriorly. Pups reach maturity by the time they are 2 years to 3 years old. [46] In late 2012, a river otter nicknamed Sutro Sam took up residence around the former site of the Sutro Baths in San Francisco, the first river otter sighting in that city in more than half a century. In addition, riverine habitats in interior regions supported smaller, but practical, otter populations. In captivity they live 10 - 15 years. [28] Foot falls during walking and running follow the sequence of left limb, right limb, right limb, left limb. A river otter can grow three to four feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) long including its tail and weigh between 11 and 30 pounds (5 to 14 kilograms). Be Her Village. How long can you hold your breath? An adult Japanese otter was between 65 and 80 cm long, with a tail measuring 45 to 50 cm. Resolution of such conflicts will usually require removal and/or relocation of nuisance otters. [2], North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. [15] Females may caterwaul during or shortly after mating. [55][56] Most North American river otter mortality is caused by human-related factors, such as trapping, illegal shooting, roadkills, and accidental captures in fish nets or set lines. The claws are well-formed and facial vibrissae (about 5 mm (0.20 in) long) are present. North American river otters rely upon play to learn survival skills such as fighting and hunting. [15] Delayed implantation distinguishes the species from the European otter, which lacks this feature. [34][49] Invertebrates discovered within scats or digestive tracts could most likely be a secondary food item, first being consumed by the fish that are subsequently preyed upon by the North American river otters. [25] When left unchecked, though, otter depredations can be quite significant under certain circumstances (e.g. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. Females generally begin reproducing at the age of two. Since they swim so much, and get much of their food from the water, holding their breath for a long time … [15], North American river otters are renowned for their sense of play. [15] There is a delayed implantation and thus the total gestation time varies from 290 to 380 days. The most common fish consumed are perch, suckers, and catfish. Copulation lasts from 16 to 73 minutes and may occur in water or on land. ), shiners (Notropis and Richardsonius spp. Sliding occurs mostly on even surfaces of snow or ice, but can also occur on grassy slopes and muddy banks. The actual embryonic development takes about 60-63 days . A mature male otter weighs 10 to 25 pounds and is 30 to 40 inches in length, plus a 12- to 15-inch tail. On occasion, groups of unrelated juveniles are observed. Home ranges of North American river otters increase in size on oiled areas compared to unoiled areas, and individual otters also modify their habitat use. [9] Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, and Prince of Wales otter. A short, broad rostrum for exhaling and a long, broad cranium define the relatively flat skull. Dating back to the 1880s, it was even seen in Tokyo.The population suddenly shrank in the 1930s, and the mammal nearly vanished. They're not slow creatures. Otters typically live 15 to 20 years in captivity, but the wild river otter life span is dramatically lower: Most live to be no more than 8 or 9 years old. Water pollution and other diminution of aquatic and wetland habitats may limit distribution and pose long-term threats if the enforcement of water quality standards is not upheld. The tail, which is stout and larger in surface area than the limbs, is used for stability while swimming and for short bursts of rapid propulsion. [1] North American river otter harvests correlate positively with the North American beaver harvests and with the average beaver pelt price from the preceding year. The species is also present throughout Alaska, including the Aleutian Islands, and the north slope of the Brooks Range. The smell and hearing abilities of the North American river otter are acute. Different studies have placed the breeding season in winter, late spring and summer. The average river otter’s life span varies depending on whether the river otter lives in the wild or in captivity. While they enjoy playing with others, river otters are typically solitary mammals that trek up and down miles of river bank each year. Kits live with their mother until the next breeding season, which is between a year and a year and a half. North American river otters also currently inhabit coastal regions throughout the United States and Canada. These analyses suggest they diverged in the Miocene epoch 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago (Mya), which is "much earlier" than indicated in the fossil record. [25] Other fish an integral part of the North American river otters' diets are those that are often plentiful and found in large schools: sunfish (Lepomis spp. Whelps are fully weaned by 3 months or 4 months. [15], CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, "Expert says otter attacks are rare after St. Pete dog killed", "Dog attacked by otters in Lakewood, homeowners say", "7 Surprising Facts About the Giant River Otter", "Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: Resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation", 10.1644/1545-1410(2002)712<0001:LM>2.0.CO;2, "North American River Otter – National Wildlife Federation", "Basic Facts About North American River Otters", "Distribution and abundance of river otter in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota", "Food habits of the river otter in Suisun Marsh, Central California", "Feeding relationships of river otters in northeastern Pennsylvania", Food habits of the North American river otter (, "Social Networks and the Formation and Maintenance of River Otter Groups", "Art Lander's Outdoors: Once endangered river otters now likely to be found in Kentucky for generations", Colorado Otters May No Longer Need Protection, "Final report of the North American river otter research project on the Upper Colorado River Basin in and adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado", COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Grizzly Bear, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=North_American_river_otter&oldid=989875112, Articles with unsourced statements from May 2009, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 14:52. There have also been some reports of river otters attacking and even drowning dogs. [53] Trappers in Alberta, Canada commonly assert North American river otters are major predators of North American beavers. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. North American river otters live alone or in family groups of, usually, females and their young. Otter Spotter The northern river otter is the most aquatic member of the weasel family. It was suggested the caves were generally far from the main river and were protected sites. The most common one is at the zoo. They are known as playful animals, often seen sliding in mud and snow and playing in the water. [34][36][52], Records of North American otters preying upon North American beavers (Castor canadensis) vary; it has been reported in the southern boreal forest of Manitoba. Its body length ranges from 66 to 107 centimetres (26 to 42 in). [12] [13] Fossils of a giant river otter dating back 3.5 Mya have been found in the US Midwest; however, fossils of the modern river otter did not appear in North America until about 1.9 Mya. A Eurasian otter can hold its breath for twice that long, quite easily! State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Trapping, loss or degradation of aquatic habitats through filling of wetlands, and development of coal, oil, gas, tanning, timber, and other industries, resulted in extirpations, or declines, in North American river otter populations in many areas. [15] North American river otters characteristically approach within a few feet of a boat or a person on shore because they're near-sighted, a consequence of vision adapted for underwater sight. [28] Otters are known to take larger fish on land to eat, whereas smaller fish are consumed in the water. Live fish are typically eaten from the head. For example, a study conducted in a central California marshland indicated crayfish formed nearly 100% of the river otter's diet at certain times of the year. The recognizable long, slender body is built for sliding down muddy river banks and snowy hills. [32][49] Susceptibility of these species is greatest during the summer (when waterfowl broods are vulnerable) and autumn. Length: Adult river otters are about four to five and one-half feet long, including its 18-inch tail. [15], Communication among North American river otters is accomplished mainly by olfactory and auditory signals. There are several locations where you can view Otters in captivity. The North American river otters avoid water bodies with gradually sloping shorelines of sand or gravel. What do they look like? However, it is sensitive to pollution, and will disappear from tainted areas. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also called the Canadian otter, is the most abundant species of otter.They are found throughout most of North America – from the Rio Grande in Northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. [28], Aquatic invertebrates have been recognized as an integral part of the North American river otter's diet. River Otter (Lutra canadensis Schreber) From: Saunders, D. A. Even in larger bodies of water, they may take disproportional advantage of any seasonal concentrations of fish when and where only very limited areas of suitable spawning, low-flow, or over-wintering habitat may exist. Consequently, many wildlife management agencies developed strategies to restore or enhance otter populations, including the use of reintroduction projects. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians (such as salamanders and frogs[3]), freshwater clams, mussels, snails, small turtles and crayfish. In many places, the populations have re-established themselves because of conservation initiatives. [36] A study conducted on captive otters revealed they preferred larger fish, ranging from 15 to 17 centimeters (5.9 to 6.7 in), more than smaller fish, ranging from 8 to 10 centimeters (3.1 to 3.9 in), and they had difficulty catching fish species less than 10 centimeters (3.9 in) or larger than 17 centimeters (6.7 in). Likewise, the potential predatory impact of otters may be considerable whenever fish are physically confined (most commonly in smaller ponds offering sparse cover or other escape options). The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family.While it may simply be called the "river otter" in North America (to distinguish it from the sea otter) there are other river otter species throughout the world. [1], Historical records indicate North American river otters were once populous throughout most major drainages in the continental United States and Canada prior to European settlement. [51] However, when water levels are lower, crayfish will seek out shelter while fish become more highly concentrated and susceptible to predation. Also known as Lontra Canadensis, the North American river otter has a playful nature that captures the attention of those fortunate enough to watch. Fish are the primary component of the North American river otter's diet throughout the year. North American river otter pelts are used as the standard for rating the quality of other pelts. [9] 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. The rhinarium is bare, with an obtuse, triangular projection. As such, careful consideration of any threatened, endangered, or fish species of special interest is warranted prior to reintroduction of otters to a watershed. In addition the river otter has two types/sets of fur. [30][38] North American river otters do not generally handle prey of a large size relative to themselves but there are occasions where they've been observed ambushing and killing adult common snapping turtles while the large turtles (which are roughly equal in average body weight to a North American river otter) are hibernating. In Idaho and Massachusetts, ecological elements preferred for latrine sites include large conifers, points of land, beaver bank dens and lodges, isthmuses, mouths of permanent streams, or any object that protrudes from the water. Acid drainage from coal mines is a persistent water quality issue in some areas, as it eliminates otter prey. These are features common to other otter … Since then it has been given a total of 11 common names. Family groups may include helpers, which can be made up of unrelated adults, yearlings, or juveniles. Weaning occurs at 12 weeks, and females provide solid food for their progeny until 37–38 weeks have transpired. The giant otter is well suited for an aquatic life, and can close its ears while underwater. The river otter is the largest member of the weasel family. They host numerous endoparasites, such as nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, the sporozoan Isopora, and acanthocephalans. What Are the Differences Between Male and Female Bottlenose Dolphins. Discover How Long Sea otter Lives. Males are generally larger than females. Lontra longicaudis. It is a European branch of the weasel or Mustelidae family. During walking, the limbs are moved in a plane parallel to the long axis of the body. North American river otters living in groups hunt and travel together, use the same dens, resting sites, and latrines, and perform allogrooming. North American river otters are very susceptible to the effects of environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers. The first ever giant river otter cub born in Asia arrived at Wildlife Reserves Singapore just this last August, UPI reports.Dr. [49] Likewise, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is a preferred fish species for the North American river otter in other regions of Colorado. The alarm call, given when shocked or distressed by potential danger, is an explosive snort, made by expelling air through the nostrils. [1], During the 1970s, improvements in natural resource management techniques emerged, along with increased concerns about North American river otter population declines in North America. Based in Las Vegas, Sandy Vigil has been a writer and educator since 1980. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). They become much more nocturnal in the spring, summer, and fall seasons, and more diurnal during winter. The North American river otter is found throughout North America, inhabiting inland waterways and coastal areas in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, the Atlantic states, and the Gulf of Mexico. They have few natural predators, especially while in the water, but coyotes and wolves will hunt otters on land. 216pp. Medicines for dogs are perfect for otter vaccination. It had a thick, lush coat of dark brown fur with short webbed feet. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. [20] It differs from the European otter by its longer neck, narrower visage, the smaller space between the ears and its shorter tail. Sliding across snow and ice is a rapid and efficient means of travel, and otters traveling over mountain passes, between drainages, or descending from mountain lakes often slide continuously for several hundred meters. [26], North American river otters swim by quadrupedal paddling, forelimb paddling, alternate hind-limb paddling, simultaneous hind-limb paddling, or body and tail dorsoventral undulation. Accidental deaths may be the result of ice flows or shifting rocks. Aquatic predators include the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), and killer whale (Orcinus orca), none of which commonly coexist with the North American river otter and thus rarely pose a threat. These include mudminnows (Umbra limi) and sculpins (Cottus spp.). [15] North American river otters only settle in areas that consist of vegetation, rock piles, and sufficient coverage. The maximum weight and length of both sexes are attained at three to four years of age. [1] The number of corpora lutea increases directly with age. Otter have been known to live sixteen years in captivity, and may live 10 – 20 yrs in the wild. Moreover, a western Oregon study revealed fish remains were present in 80% of the 103 digestive tracts examined. Average Lifespan Wild: 8-9 years Captivity: 15-20 years Fun Facts. Otters that live in nature can live even longer if it wasn’t for the construction activity expansion by humans . [15] The oldest fossil record of an Old World river otter comes from the late Pliocene epoch (3.6 to 1.8 Mya). The female otters do not dig their own dens; instead, they rely on other animals, such as beavers, to provide suitable environments to raise their offspring. Its height at the shoulder is about 10 inches. and redhorses (Moxostoma spp. 1988. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. General description: The otter is perfectly suited for an aquatic life. [18] An average adult male weighs about 11.3 kilograms (25 lb) against the female's average of 8.3 kilograms (18 lb). [15], North American river otters are polygynous. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Daily movements of family groups averaged 4.7, 4.4, and 2.4 km (2.9, 2.7, and 1.5 mi) in spring, summer, and winter, respectively. Appearance. In Idaho, North American river otters prefer valley habitats over mountainous terrain, and they select valley streams over valley lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Adirondack Mammals. The giant otter is found in the lakes, slow-moving forested rivers, creeks, reservoirs, and swamps of South America. [15], The North American river otter is physically well-equipped for aquatic life. By the 1970s, otters were restricted mainly to Scotland, especially the islands and the north-west coast, western Wales, parts of East Anglia and the West Country (though they remained … Females are about 25 percent smaller than males. Musk from the scent glands may also be secreted when otters are frightened or angry. The newborns start playing at five to six weeks, and begin consuming solid food at 9–10 weeks. ); and Ictaluridae, which consists of bullheads and catfish (Ictalurus spp.). [15] Tail lengths range from 30 to 50 centimetres (12 to 20 in). In the late 1970s, annual harvest in North America reached approximately 50,000 pelts, for a value of US$3 million. However, urbanization and pollution instigated reductions in range area. [49] The few occurrences of mammals found in the North American river otter's diet include: muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus); meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus); eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus); and snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus). Some studies indicate that river otters pair for only a few months during the breeding season and have no further strong bonds. Small fish are eaten at the surface, but larger ones are taken to the shore to be consumed. The North American river otter scent-marks with feces, urine, and possibly anal sac secretions. ); Cyprinidae, made up of carp (Cyprinus spp. The river otter has a long, streamlined body with dense brown fur. [51], Waterfowl, rails, and some colonial nesting birds are preyed upon by North American river otters in various areas. Neotropical river otter Synonyms Lutra longicaudis Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits Maximum longevity Not yet established Observations. River otters are not territorial, but individual North American river otters of different groups portray mutual avoidance. The European otter, a semi-aquatic species, lives along coasts and in a wide variety of freshwater habitats. According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), report in 2008 there is no information to support population size of . An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). The North American otter’s mating season is in the later winter and early spring – roughly March and April. They measure 3 feet to 4 feet from head to tail and weigh 7 pounds to 31 pounds. Recently, long-term genetic consequences of reintroduction projects on remnant North American river otter populations has been discussed. [39] Remains of the much larger North American beaver have been found in North American river otter scat in some regions, although most otter dietary studies in areas where otters and beaver are sympatric do not show them to be regular predators of beavers (despite the claims of fur-trappers that otters frequently hunt beavers) and perhaps only young beaver kits may be attacked. Be quite significant under certain circumstances ( e.g banks and snowy hills, expectant mothers begin look... Animals, often seen sliding in mud and snow and playing in the in. Containing semiaquatic mammal burrows and lakes with beaver lodges 12 to 20 in ) may compete with number! 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