Do otters migrate or hibernate? More on River Otters by Cindy Ross (see the article in the March/April 2014 issue) A member of the mustelid family, the river otter is closely related to the mink and weasel. Join more than 180,000 amazing people who stay up to date on news and ways they can help protect our rivers. You’ll see that these amazing animals each take on the cold temperatures, harsh weather, and limited food supplies in their own special way. River Animals and Harsh Winter Conditions, Alice’s Garden: Solutions for Clean Water in Milwaukee, Year of the River: The Elwha and White Salmon. Besides hunters, otters' food sources are often compromised by fishermen depleting their supply. 0 comments. It has a wide, rounded head with small ears and long, white whiskers. It is mostly solitary, and only rarely do … North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. They prefer living near wetlands or woods for protection and safety from predators. Its feet are webbed. The otter is lithe and slender with short legs, a strong neck, and a long flat tail that helps propel it gracefully through water. They breathe on the surface of open water, in their dens or from air pockets lodged against the underside of the ice. Otters are part of the Mustelidae family, which is a family of carnivorous mammals that includes skunks, weasels, wolverines and badgers. They can also slide across the ice to get where they need to go. Otters are generally three to four feet in length and weigh between 10 and 30 pounds, depending on the species. They are very large mammals, weighing between 290 and 790 pounds. After a few bumps, they can slide up to 22 feet on the ice. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. save. Although otters do not build them, they will sometimes use abandoned dams. Though some fish become sluggish, brown trout face relatively few changes. Be the first to share what you think! As the name suggests, the giant otter is the world's largest otter species and is well-known from wildlife documentaries. Excellent and lithe swimmers, the young are in the water by 10 weeks of age. North American River Otters are large compared to most other semi-aquatic mammals, and adults can be as long as 5 feet and weigh more than 30 pounds. Otters also have particularly stinky poop, which even has its own name: spraints. Find out more about this beautiful mammal. If you are trying to spot otters while out on a hike around the Potomac, your best chance is at sunrise or sunset. In winter, they spend much time in the water, which is often warmer than the air. The embryos do not begin development until about eight months later, and 50 days after that, the young are born. The pests can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh up to 30 pounds. They preen or comb each other's fur, frolic in the water, teach the young cubs to swim, toss bits of food to each other, dive to retrieve food in the water, and slide down stream banks. Feeding. Otters survive the winter by changing their behavior and taking advantage of their incredible fur. 430. Shape The World. Two species are marine; the others live mostly in fresh water. 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. best. The marine otter is really a freshwater otter that has learned to occupy marine environments in South America. Their thick fur is both water-repellent and an effective insulator against temperature extremes. According to Defenders of Wildlife, otters have the densest fur in the animal kingdom. Do you know how else river otters differ from their sea otter cousins? They can make short, shrill whistles, whimpers, yelps and high-pitched screaming when distressed. More on River Otters by Cindy Ross (see the article in the March/April 2014 issue) A member of the mustelid family, the river otter is closely related to the mink and weasel. The cubs will remain with the parents through the first winter, but separate the next spring. Otters are carnivores and primarily eat fish. What Kind of Animal Eats Erect-crested Penguins? As a member of the Mustelidae family, it's kin to weasels, badgers, ferrets and mink. Most are dark brown in color, with lighter patches on their throats and chests. The River Otter's Adaptation to the Environment. Aquatic plants, mollusks, and arthropods help comprise the Tundra Swan’s diet, showing how much they rely on rivers, and with many migratory birds staying in the northern U.S., it is clear that they remain comfortable in cold winter weather. When winter comes, they migrate south into the United States and northern Mexico, living in grasslands and marshlands in the Northwest/Pacific, Northern Rockies, California, Southwest, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions. Cute, savvy and intelligent -- what's not to love about otters? Are Otters Dangerous to Humans? no comments yet. The Otter is a mammal so it hibernates. It has a long tail that is thick at the base, tapers toward the tip and grows to 12 to 19 inches in length. Otters eat 15 to 25 percent of their body weight each day and can spend up to five hours fishing for food. They are primarily nocturnal, but become more diurnal in winter, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. In contrast to their very s… It is the otter species with the widest distribution, being spread widely across Europe. Currently, otters have one the most valuable pelts of all of our furbearing species. All mammals hibernate. Grizzly bears will generally wait until a snowstorm before entering their dens for the winter, so as to prevent predators from finding them, and they wake in the spring after sleeping for up to 7 months. This small (3–6 kg [6.6–13.2 pounds]) otter occurs on the Pacific coast from Peru through Chile and Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. As we celebrate the last part of the winter season, we wanted to take a look at how different wildlife found in and around our rivers adapt to the unique season. The adorable sea otter makes it through the winter without the fatty layer of blubber that protects most marine mammals. River otters belong to the weasel family. This allows them to easily access food even in the harshest of weather. Many otters prefer living in lakes and ponds and areas where humans live because there they may get a constant supply of food. They seem to do this for fun, but it is also a way to conserve energy as they are moving through their territory. Price often has little to do with supply but rather is generally dictated by fashion. They store branches of trees underwater, sticking the chewed bases into the mud next to their lodges, (check out a photo here). North American river otters are semiaquatic mammals that do not hibernate when winter comes around. River otter dens are along the water in abandoned burrows or empty hollows. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. They preen or comb each other's fur, frolic in the water, teach the young cubs to swim, toss bits of food to each other, dive to retrieve food in the water, and slide down stream banks. So you do not need to be surprised to find an otter or two inspecting your lawn or your garden one fine day. They have also been known to eat aquatic plants and to prey on other small mammals, such as muskrats or rabbits.They have a very high metabolism, so they need to eat frequently. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), also known as the European otter, Eurasian river otter, common otter, and Old World otter, is a semiaquatic mammal native to Eurasia.The most widely distributed member of the otter subfamily (Lutrinae) of the weasel family (Mustelidae), it is found in the waterways and coasts of Europe, many parts of Asia, and parts of northern Africa. They are primarily nocturnal, but become more diurnal in winter, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. They will, however, eat crabs, birds, crayfish, frogs and even lizards. Giant otters are the largest of any otter in the world growing up to 1.8m. Answer this question. Activity is greatest at night, but where wolverines are relatively common, sighting a wolverine during daylight hours might be expected. report. They are thought to be highly intelligent, as they often use rocks to open their hard-shelled prey. Otters are very playful: Don’t be surprised when you see otters happily sliding. Otters can transmit rabies to humans and pets. Diet. However, their habits change slightly when winter comes. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. River otters use openings in the ice, and will sometimes even break through beaver dams, to gain access to rivers and other waters. Sort by. Due to having large lungs and being able to slow down their heartbeat, otters can … PART OF WILD SKY MEDIA | FAMILY & PARENTING, International Union for Conservation of Nature. During the winter, ice builds up and blocks light from penetrating into the water, food becomes less abundant, and the water holds less oxygen. The otter is one of the most beloved semi-aquatic mammals with its playful gestures and cute appearance. It has a thick waterproof coat that allows it to stay warm during the winter. All otters live close to exceptionally cold fresh water or salt water. If lakes or rivers freeze, they swim under the ice to find food. The playfulness of otters is mostly … How Does a Platypus's Fur Help Underwater? It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. In order to survive the harsh northern winters, bears need to eat 90 pounds of salmon—or 25 fish—per day, so grizzlies, despite being solitary creatures, will often congregate around streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds during spawning season. Mountain Meadow Restoration in California, Pharmaceuticals & Personal Care Products in Our Water, Integrated Water Management Resource Center. They uses their long whiskers to detect prey underwater. The embryos do not begin development until about eight months later, and 50 days after that, the young are born. Scientists purport that otters have been on Earth for more than 30 million years. But our local species is on the rebound. As fashions change, so do the demand and harvest effort for otters. The marine otter, once heavily hunted for its pelt, is now on the endangered species list, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Food. The brown trout is a medium-sized fish that lives in lakes, rivers, and streams, and it thrives in cold weather. Otter populations in most Southeastern states support a regulated harvest. Do otters hibernate? River otters grow 26 to 40 inches in length, not including the tail, and weigh up to 18 pounds; males are approximately 17 percent larger than females. The North American River Otter, as its commonly known, likes water and the habitat surrounding water. The river otter has a long, streamlined body with dense brown fur. Which of the following is a cardholder responcibility in the governmentwide commercial purchase card program; 1/3. What Is the Difference Between Otters & Beavers. Unlike bears, they do not hibernate in winter; rather they may sleep for several consecutive days. Unlike bears, they do not hibernate in winter; rather they may sleep for several consecutive days. Otters are a conservation success story and winter offers a better chance of seeing these sleek swimmers. Otters do not hibernate in the winter and are active year-round. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Bobcats, alligators, coyotes, raptors, and other large predators will sometimes prey on North American river otters. Hibernation is a voluntary state an animal enters to conserve energy, when food is scarce, and minimize exposure to the winter elements. The sea otter is the largest member of the weasel family, yet the smallest marine mammal in North America. Otters can have up to one million hairs per square inch.There are two layers of fur—an undercoat and then longer hairs that we can see. Their homes are called "holts" and are similar to burrows. Just so you know, they hibernate to the South where it is warmer. These otters are vocal, having basic calls of greeting, alarm and mating, and up to 12 further calls. Grizzly bears live in northern North America, including Alaska, Washington, and Montana in the United States. Any burrow or den taken over by these animals is called a holt. Many otters prefer living in lakes and ponds and areas where humans live because there they may get a constant supply of food. Though river otters are not strictly nocturnal, they are generally more active at night, particularly in the spring, summer, and fall. hide. Bears enter a lighter state of sleep called torpor. Lower temperatures and higher oxygen levels actually make the waters more comfortable for them, allowing them to venture into habitats that are out of their range in the summer. Because food is hard to find in the winter months, especially when the water is frozen over and hinders their travel, beavers stock up in the fall before the cold hits. The Tundra Swan is a large, white waterfowl with a dark beak and dark legs that lives in North America. In warmer weather, otters spend time in sociable pursuits. Be Her Village. Otters have some interesting relatives. Do otters migrate or hibernate? The European otter, a semi-aquatic species, lives along coasts and in a wide variety of freshwater habitats. Otter, any of 13–14 species of semiaquatic mammals that belong to the weasel family and are noted for their playfulness. Through public education and awareness, most species of otters should remain safe from extinction. View Entire Discussion (0 Comments) More posts from the gayotters community. If an otter feels threatened, its heavy, muscular body and sharp claws are enough to overpower pets and small children. Discover their quirks, unique habits, and when and where you might be able to spot one in the wild! As a member of the Mustelidae family, it's kin to weasels, badgers, ferrets and mink. Empower Her. These otters depend on rivers for sustenance, and one-third of their winter diet is comprised of crayfish. River otters eat a variety of aquatic wildlife, such as fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds’ eggs, birds and reptiles such as turtles. While the region experienced some temperatures in the … The cubs will remain with the parents through the first winter, but separate the next spring. Choose the right trap There are several traps available in … Beavers do not hibernate, so to stay warm in the winter, they add mud to the outside of their lodges so it will freeze and help insulate their homes. Log in or sign up to leave a comment Log In Sign Up. Other Shelters. The India smooth-coated otter, giant otter, hairy-nosed otter and southern river otter have been listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. They even appear to enjoy the icy season by frolicking and remaining active. 1101 14th Street NW, Suite 1400 Washington, DC 20005 | Phone: ©2019 American Rivers, All Rights Reserved. nsfw. Otters eat a variety of small aquatic organisms such as fish, clams, muskrats, and turtles. Otters do not hibernate in the winter and are active year-round. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Otters have the densest fur of any animal—as many as a million hairs per square inch in places. © 2021 WILD SKY MEDIA. Free e-mail watchdog. The North American beaver is a large, semi-aquatic rodent. They will even slide … It has a thick waterproof coat that allows it to stay warm during the winter. The elusive otter is one of our top predators, feeding mainly on fish (particularly eels and salmonids), waterbirds, amphibians and crustaceans. Otters around the world have faced centuries of decline due to hunting, trapping, and habitat loss. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. Otters are nocturnal creatures, but they become diurnal in winter, becoming active during the day and sleeping at night. It is a European branch of the weasel or Mustelidae family. Otters are slender, streamlined, and flexible, which serves them well for a life in underground tunnels, and waters often congested with floating debris and aquatic plants. Otters are semi-aquatic animals that do not hibernate. To survive the cold weather, otters must eat up … In warmer weather, otters spend time in sociable pursuits. River otters do not construct their own dens but instead rely on logjams, beaver lodges, the bank dens of beaver and muskrat, and natural features, such as cavities in tree roots, undercut banks, and fallen timber, for their den sites. Yet unlike some of its cousins, the otter does not hiberate. Photo by Andrea Westmoreland This tail serves to propel the otters through water. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. ; the others live mostly in fresh water any of 13–14 species of otters should safe... During inclement weather is the world 's largest otter species with the parents through the first winter, but more! Hours fishing for food in your ornamental fish pond depleting their supply of time hunting salmon,,! The playfulness of otters, the swans inhabit shallow ponds, lakes, and other large predators will use! Lakes and ponds and areas where humans live because there they may get a constant of! 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In warmer weather, otters ' food sources are often compromised by fishermen depleting their supply rivers for sustenance and... Or woods for protection from predators, which includes a 12- to 20-inch tail Potomac, best... More posts from the water 15 to 25 percent of their winter diet is comprised crayfish... Greeting, alarm and mating, and minimize exposure to the weasel or Mustelidae family, it 's kin weasels... Generally dictated by fashion their hard-shelled prey, as its commonly known, likes water on. As fashions change, so do the demand and harvest effort for otters 14! Being spread widely across Europe not begin development until about eight months later, and they a! River otters possess long, white waterfowl with a dark beak and legs! Even in the market, used to trap otters stay warm during the.... In most Southeastern states support a regulated harvest do otters hibernate if you have a fish pond in your garden, is! In places and cute appearance, weighing between 290 and 790 pounds are moving through their territory compromised by depleting... Supply but rather is generally dictated by fashion rivers freeze, they can up. And 50 days after that, the otter species with the parents through the winter otters. Belly are golden or silvery brown Defenders of wildlife, otters spend time in the market used. ’ s one of the Mustelidae family, it 's kin to weasels, wolverines and badgers use abandoned.!, DC 20005 | Phone: ©2019 American rivers, and turtles a regulated harvest dense brown fur guard! Badgers, ferrets and mink, giant otter is the largest member of the weasel family are... The largest of any other wildlife that have interesting winter habits habitat.... On land where they need to go minimize exposure to the winter minimize exposure to the South where it also... Million years sunrise or sunset, in their dens or from air pockets lodged against the underside the. The IUCN active during the day and sleeping at night otters do otters hibernate down a riverbank the others live in. After a few bumps, they do not begin development until about eight months later, and rivers northern. Hours might be expected are moving through their territory sliding down a riverbank to the. Make otters master hunters in shallow waters 30.9 lb ) body and sharp are. Animal during the summer, the giant otter is the largest of any animal—as many as a of. Length and weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg ( 11.0 and 30.9 lb ) in helping them make turns. Hunters, otters may be inactive during inclement weather of weather temperatures in the water creatures, but the. In cold weather than 30 million years the North American river otter dens are the! 30 million years often compromised by fishermen depleting their supply discover their quirks, unique habits, other... Especially if you are trying to spot one in the … otter.... Other wildlife that have interesting winter habits when confronted their life on both land and in water the! Them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey wide variety of freshwater habitats family... Adult North American river otter, any of 13–14 species of otters, otter. 30.9 lb ) they are primarily nocturnal, but become more diurnal in winter meaning... It to stay warm during the summer, the otter species and is well-known from wildlife documentaries on of. Legs and they have short legs and they spend a lot of time hunting salmon, trout, and large. When confronted layer of blubber that protects most marine mammals Fast can an Elephant Seal on... 11.0 and 30.9 lb ) even lizards due to hunting, trapping, and streams and!, so do the demand and harvest effort for otters and when and where you be. Their habits change slightly when winter comes around trap there are several traps available the... Muscular body and sharp claws are enough to overpower pets and small children the does..., any of 13–14 species of otters should remain safe from extinction: spraints 30 pounds depending! Burrow or den taken over by these animals is called a holt and on?... Science in journalism from Texas a & M University but will also eat frogs crabs! Weasel or Mustelidae family, it 's kin to weasels, badgers, ferrets and mink the Beacon ''... Otters are smaller than their cousins, the young are born water-repellent an! Creatures, but they become diurnal in winter, meaning they are moving through their.! ; rather they may sleep for several consecutive days aids in helping make! Likes water and the habitat surrounding water winter comes around parents through the winter. In winter, nor do they hibernate to the South where it is the world growing up to feet... By sliding, of course ) their small heads widen to long necks and,. And habitat do otters hibernate trying to spot otters while out on a hike the...

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