North American River Otter

The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is a freshwater, semi-aquatic mammal in the Lutrinae sub-family of the Mustelidae family of weasels. It is a mustelid. It is also known as the Northern River Otter or the Common Otter.

The North American River Otter has a long, slender body, which is streamlined for swimming. Its fur is short, thick and water-repellent. It has short legs with webbed feet for swimming, but it can also walk on land. It varies in colour from light-brown to black, with a greyish chest, neck, and throat. It has a short nose, flat head, round ears, and a nose pad (like a dog). It has long whiskers, called vibrissae. It has a long, tapered tail.

North American River Otter

It grows to 66-107 centimetres (26-42 inches) long.

It is native to North America. It lives in freshwater rives, lakes, swamps, waterways and along the coast, in the water and on land (called semi-aquatic).

It lives in a burrow close to the water’s edge. The burrow is called a den. The den has several tunnel openings. 

The North American River Otter feeds on fish, salamanders, frogs, toads, freshwater clams, mussels, snails, and turtles. It has sharp teeth, suitable for eating fish. It is diurnal, eating during the day. Predators that eat otters include alligators and eagles.

The female has her young in the den. She has 1-6 live young, called pups, after a gestation period of about 60 days. The pups are born blind and helpless, which is called altricial. The mother otter cares for her pups for almost a year. 

North American River Otter

[Location of photographs: Miami Zoo, Florida, USA]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.