North American River Otters by Leah

By Leah Crawley

A north American river otter, also known as a lontra canadensis (otter belonging to Canada) is an otter that lives in fresh water. They can be brown, tan, grey or white. Their bodies are covered in fur. They are found in north Mexico. They can grow up to 80cm long and can weigh up to 14kg.

They have a water proof coat so the water does not reach their skin. If the water makes it to the skin the can get cold. Their webbed feet help them to pull the water so they can propel them self forward. They can close their nostrils to stop water from getting in while they are diving.

They primarily eat fish. They are also known to eat whatever is easiest to find, like crustaceans, mollusks, insects, birds, oysters, shellfish, crabs, crayfish, frogs, rodents, turtles and aquatic invertebrates. North American River otters have few predators but they are sometimes are hunted by alligators, bobcats, and some birds. Their main predictor is human kind. North American river otters live in streams, marshes and back waterways surrounding lakes, especially the Great Lakes. They are also found in similar areas near certain parts of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

They can have one to six babies but the average is two to three. A female river otter has four nipples on her lower abdomen. River otters' milk is 24% fat. The pups are nursed every three to four hours for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. They are fully weaned at 14 weeks.

North American River Otters hunt during the day unless there are human disturbances. They use scent glands to mark their territory and trail marking. They slide instead of running because it is faster.

The population is unknown because the river otter is one of the hardest mammals to census, but is estimated to be over 100,000 based on harvest reports.

North American River Otters are such playful animals that they deserve to live. If you ever see one think how you can stop them from being hunted.