Habitat: Found in streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and along marine coasts that have vegetation or rock piles along the banks. Human contact is influencing this otter’s aquatic habitats. Characteristics: The features of North American river otters allow them to succeed both on land and in the water. In water, especially along the Gulf Coast, crocodilian reptiles are real threats. Its short, muscular legs move surprisingly well on land, and is usually seen traveling in pairs (Foresman 2012). President and CEO Collin O’Mara reveals in a TEDx Talk why it is essential to connect our children and future generations with wildlife and the outdoors—and how doing so is good for our health, economy, and environment. North American river otter conservation. This species’ social structure is very variable, as some animals are solitary, while others live in family groups of an adult female with her offspring, or sometimes in large groups of just adult males. They can live eight to nine years in the wild but have lived up to 21 years in captivity. These animals inhabit a variety of diverse environments, from saltwater estuaries to freshwater lakes, rivers, marshes and streams In the wild, their average life span is 8 or 9 years. They have a very high metabolism, so they need to eat frequently. Habitat/Diet The North American river otter is quite possibly the most numerous otter species in the world. They first learn to swim after about two months. Birds and birds’ eggs, as well as small terrestrial mammals may also be eaten. Adults generally give birth to between one and three pups, which are blind and helpless when born. Otters are usually found no more than a few hundred meters from water. In captivity, North American river otters can live into their 20s. Distribution. The playful North American river otter is well adapted for semi-aquatic living. The North American river otter is a member of the mustelid or weasel family that can be easily identified by a stout body, short legs, noticeably tapered tail and dense, short, glossy fur. The North American River Otter is quite versatile, making its home in lakes, swamps, ponds and marshes, in addition to rivers. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations within AZA accredited zoos to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild. However, it is sensitive to pollution, and will disappear from tainted areas. North American river otters build dens in the burrows of other mammals, in natural hollows, such as under a log, or in river banks. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. They can stay underwater for as many as eight minutes. North American otters are able to dive as deep as 60 feet. Their tails are muscular and comprise up to 40 percent of the otter… Some threats to river otters include habitat development and loss, hunting and trapping, habitat alterations and damming, disease from invasive species, and pollution. On land a river otter can run at speeds of up to 15 miles (24 kilometers) an hour—they can slide even faster. North American otters are polygynous, with males often breeding with several females, probably ones whose home ranges overlap theirs. The Northern River Otter is found both in Canada and the United States. Otters have the thickest fur of any mammal, having as many as 850,000 hairs per square inch. North American river otters can close their nostrils to keep water out during long dives. They are able to live in a variety of different habitats, including rivers, lakes and large creeks. There is no significant threat today from commercial harvesting, but illegal hunting can affect local populations. They are playful and agile athletes, sliding down hills of mud or snow to land with a splash in the water. They have short legs, webbed feet for faster swimming, and a long, narrow body and flattened head for streamlined movement in the water. Their range extends through most of North America from Alaska and northern Canada down to southern Florida. If fish numbers start to decrease or they move elsewhere as a result of climate change, this species would lose its major food source. Pups will open their eyes when they are one month old and are weaned when about 3 months old, starting to leave their birth range from 6 months to the age of one year. In southern Chile the marine otter is found almost exclusively along exposed rocky seashores; farther north it may inhabit estuaries and fresh water. You can commonly find them living in beaver dams. Breeding is from December to April: late winter or early in spring. It is more nocturnal in summer and its eyes reflect a faint amber glow at night. North American River Otter Habitat. North American River otters may be commonly found throughout much of sub-Arctic Canada, Alaska, and, within the contiguous United States, in the Pacific Northwest and along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Article below from Wikipedia entry: The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts.An adult river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 31 lb). Many "play" activities serve a purpose, such as strengthening social bonds, practicing hunting techniques, and scent marking. North American river otters live in streams, marshes and back waterways surrounding lakes, especially the Great Lakes. It can tolerate a great range of temperature and elevations. Giant otters (genus Pteronura) are found mainly in slow-moving rivers and creeks within forests, swamps, and mars… They reach reproductive maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years. More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. River otters eat fish, and fish populations are threatened by climate change from rising sea levels. The mammals have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. The otters have fur when they are born, but are otherwise helpless. The tail makes up about a third of their total length. North American river otters have long whiskers, which they use to detect prey in dark or cloudy water, and clawed feet for grasping onto slippery prey. Dens are created in riverside burrows, under vegetation or rocks near water, in undercut banks or hollow trees, and sometimes in muskrat or beaver lodges. Latin Name: Lontra canadensis Other Names: North American Otter, or Northern Otter. They are highly adaptable animals so as long as they have access to enough food and water they can thrive. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) can weigh 20-30 pounds, and its slender, cylindrical body can reach 2-3 feet in length, not including the tail, which can be 1-1.5 feet long. It is much easier to list the habitats that river otters don’t live in than to list the areas they do. In Canada, they can be found in every province and territory except Prince Edward Island, where they appear to be extirpated. Habitat and range Early in the Twentieth Century, otter range was greatly reduced in Minnesota as a result of wetland drainage and pollution which destroyed habitat. The dens have entrances underwater so they can be easily accessed from the water. Its fur ranges in color from white and gray to brown and black. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive. The North American river otters are carnivores, they eat mainly aquatic animals such as amphibians, turtles, fish, crayfish, crabs, and other species of invertebrates. Today, a large number of otters are found in the United States and Canada. Although commonly called a "river otter", the North American river otter is found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, both freshwater and coastal marine, including lakes, rivers, inland wetlands, coastal shorelines, marshes, and estuaries. The Buttonwood Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for North American River Otters. Habitat and Range: Throughout Canada and northern United Stated down through the east coast to Florida. Births take place from November to May, peaking in March and April. River otters can be found throughout North America. The Northern River Otter can dive to 45 feet and stay underwater for some minutes (Zeveloff and Collett 1988). They were extirpated from portions of their range, but conservation and reintroduction efforts are helping populations to recover. They are known to dig tunnels under the … They do fine in both cold and warm temperatures of water. Fur trapping in the 19th century brought river otter populations to very low populations, but they have returned to the healthy waterways and lakes of the Pacific Northwest. Gestation is for two months, but young may be produced up to a year after breeding due to delayed implantation. Most of these problems are due to water pollution. Today, otters are common in all of northern Minnesota, and thanks to wetland restoration, are becoming more common again in southern parts of the state. They prefer bog lakes with banked shores containing semi aquatic mammal burrows and lakes with Beaver lodges. North American river otters have been almost eliminated across their native range by the loss of fitting habitat combined with the pressures of hunting/trapping for the fur trade. River otters belong to the weasel family. This tail serves to propel the otters through water. 1. The National Wildlife Federation is providing resources to help families and caregivers across the country provide meaningful educational opportunities and safe outdoor experiences for children during these incredibly difficult times. River otters … They tend to stick to freshwater areas including lakes and rivers. Mothers will catch and release prey to teach their young how to forage and to catch food items. North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) Description & Range: The river otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae). 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). Terrestrial predators of otters include black bears and a variety of Feline and Canine species, domestic… Anywhere, any time. In 4 seconds, you will be redirected to nwfactionfund.org, the site of the National Wildlife Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization. Summary 4 Lontra canadensis (North American otter) is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North America. Weighing between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 31 lb). North American river otters are the only river otter that is found north of Mexico. River otters can tolerate a variety of environments, including cold and warmer latitudes and high elevations. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today remain stable. The river otter has fur ranging from brown to velvety black and a long streamlined body (picture 1). A female gives birth to 1 to 6 young in each litter, averaging 2 to 3. Their fur is dark brown over much of the body, and lighter brown on the belly and face. North American River Otter Wikipedia article -, 2. There is much overlap of individual home ranges, and though this animal is non-territorial, it uses scent-marking as an important means of communication. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) was historically distributed throughout most major drainages in the continental United States and Canada, from the arctic in Alaska south to Texas and as far east as Florida. For the majority of the year, this animal is most active during the period dusk until dawn, but in winter, it may more commonly be seen during the day. 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. The Basics. River otters communicate with whistles, yelps, growls, and screams, as well as touch and body posture. North American otters are playful animals, and indulge in water play, mud/snow sliding, and burrowing through snow. This means that they have to eat a lot during the day. North American River Otter . Least Concern (IUCN) Even with stable populations the North American River Otter still needs help keeping their populations safe. While North American River otters are rather high up on the food chain, they do in fact have several natural predators. Its fur ranges in color from white and gray to brown and black. They have also been known to eat aquatic plants and to prey on other small mammals, such as muskrats or rabbits. They also scent mark using scent glands near the base of their tails that produce a strong, musky odor. They have been observed wrestling, chasing other otters, diving for rocks and clamshells, swimming with pebbles or other small objects balanced on their noses, toying with live prey and sliding down mud banks or snow banks. The aquatic mammal sports short, dense, waterproof fur and profuse whiskers. North American river otters live near permanent watersheds throughout North America, from Alaska and northern Canada south to the Gulf of Mexico. They can thrive in any water habitat, such as ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, and estuaries—in cold, warm, or even high-elevation areas—as long as the habitat provides adequate food. The Defenders of Wildlife resource, based on harvest reports, estimates the North American otter’s total population size to be over 100,000 individuals. Typical habitats include lakes, rivers, marshes, and coastal shorelines. Ditch the disposables and make the switch to sustainable products. Basically, they can be found anywhere they have easy access to both land and water. Family Life. They are found living in rivers, lakes, ponds, small streams, marshes, and other inland wetlands. 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