However, improvements in water quality (through enactment of clean water regulations) and furbearer management techniques have permitted river otters to regain portions of their range in many areas. ); and perches (Perca spp.). When a copious supply of food dwindles or other prey becomes available, North American otters either transfer to a new location or convert their dietary choices to the most adequate prey. [15], In early spring, expectant mothers begin to look for a den where they can give birth. [1], North American river otters often reside in beaver ponds. Otters are closely related to badgers. [19] Litter size can reach five, but usually ranges from one to three. [19] About one-third of the animal's total length consists of a long, tapered tail. The otter is the largest member of the weasel family. A North American river otter's main requirements are a steady food supply and easy access to a body of water. North American river otter pelts are used as the standard for rating the quality of other pelts. Log jams are heavily used when present. The North American river otter, a member of the subfamily Lutrinae in the weasel family (Mustelidae), is equally versatile in the water and on land. The North American river otters may compete with the American mink (Mustela vison) for resources. Therefore, fish are more vulnerable to being preyed upon by otters because the crayfish have become more difficult to obtain. News | [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. Otter Central – Leading Source for Otter Videos, Otter Pictures, Otter Facts & More ), daces (Rhinichthys spp. apparently limited to large rivers, such as the Columbia, Yakima, and [11], In a new classification, the species is called Lontra canadensis, where the genus Lontra includes all the New World river otters. [9] Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, and Prince of Wales otter. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) became one of the major animals hunted and trapped for fur in North America after European contact. Because the North American river otters delay implantation for at least eight months, the interval between copulation and parturition can reach 10–12 months. Terrestrial predators include the bobcat (Lynx rufus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), wolf (Canis lupus), black bear (Ursus americanus) and (in young or small North American river otters) red fox (Vulpes vulpes) . [34] Fish remnants were found present in 91.9% of the scat samples. As a result, slow-swimming fish are consumed more often than game fishes when both are equally available. [34] However, many other studies did not report any findings of North American beaver remains in the scat sampled. [32][36] Slow-moving species include suckers (Catostomidae), catfish, sunfish and bass (Centrarchidae), daces, carp, and shiners (Cyprinidae). [41] Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. [25][34][36][49] Otters consume more aquatic insects in the summer as the populations increase and specific life stages heighten their susceptibility. Fish are the primary component of the North American river otter's diet throughout the year. The rhinarium is bare, with an obtuse, triangular projection. years old. 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. North American river otters also inhabit the forested regions of the Pacific coast in North America. Maps | [31][33], Mammals are rarely consumed by North American river otters, and are not a major dietary component. A sub-species of otter, river otters are semi- aquatic mammals that have streamlined and serpentine bodies, with a thick and lustrous coat. [29] In Georgia, crayfish accounted for two-thirds of the prey in the summer diet, and their remnants were present in 98% of the summer spraint. [37] Cases where they've been ambushed and consumed by grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus) have also been reportedly witnessed near the Arctic region. 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. [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). Click the range map to learn more about the distribution of River Otters in Washington. As the front feet make contact with the ground, the back feet are lifted and land where the front paws first contacted the ground, producing a pattern of tracks in pairs typical of most mustelids. 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. 6. Encounters between North American river otters and beavers are not necessarily hostile. [15], North American river otters are polygynous. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. [15] North American river otters only settle in areas that consist of vegetation, rock piles, and sufficient coverage. [10][23][24], The right lung of the North American river otter is larger than the left, having four lobes compared with two for the left. In captivity they live 10 - 15 years. Baby Otters can’t swim at first, but their buoyancy makes it possible for the mother to wrap the pup in (sea)weeds to prevent it from drifting away when she needs to hunt. What they look like: They become much more nocturnal in the spring, summer, and fall seasons, and more diurnal during winter. When at play or traveling, they sometimes give off low, purring grunts. Most mustelids, including otters, have specialized teeth, including sharp canines and carnassials that inflict lethal bites to prey. A clinal reduction in size may exist from north to south along the Pacific coast, but not from east to west. The maximum weight and length of both sexes are attained at three to four years of age. North American river otters may be victims of canine distemper, rabies, respiratory tract disease, and urinary infection. Prior to the arrival of the next litter, the North American river otter yearlings venture out in search of their own home ranges.[44]. A short, broad rostrum for exhaling and a long, broad cranium define the relatively flat skull. Live fish are typically eaten from the head. North American river otters rely upon play to learn survival skills such as fighting and hunting. [28] However, playful behavior was found in only 6% of 294 observations in a study in Idaho, and was limited mostly to immature otters.[15]. Sea otters can form close attachment with humans and cannot be left alone at all. – http://bit.ly/ADVENTUREKIT Order Coyote's NEW book - http://bit.ly/KINGOFSTING Please SUBSCRIBE NOW! Foot falls during walking and running follow the sequence of left limb, right limb, right limb, left limb. How to Participate | [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. [8], The North American river otter was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1777. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. The otters migrated to North America and southwards again across the Panamanian Land Bridge, which formed 3 Mya. [25], The North American river otter is more social than most mustelids. Read also: More Amazing Animals Facts. The largest otter is the giant otter. Crustaceans may even be consumed more than fish. Though it is the largest, it isn’t the heaviest. [48] However, large populations never occurred in areas of Southern California such as the chaparral and oak woodlands and Mojave Desert seasonal waterway regions, or in the xeric shrubland regions in New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, and Colorado. 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. River otter become mature at 2 to 3 Giant otters grow to as long as 6 … It is found throughout North America, inhabiting inland waterways and coastal areas in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, the Atlantic states, and the Gulf of Mexico. North American river otters are not scavengers; they avoid consuming carrion. North American river otters are inadvertently harvested by traps set for North American beavers, and therefore management plans should consider both species simultaneously. As the name suggests, the giant otter is the world's largest otter species and is well-known from wildlife documentaries. [52] However, when water levels are lower, crayfish will seek out shelter while fish become more highly concentrated and susceptible to predation. Environmental disasters, such as oil spills, may increase levels of blood haptoglobin and interleukin-6 immunoreactive protein, but decrease body mass. [5][6][7], The range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America. [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. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). River otters eat a variety of fish and shellfish, as well as small land mammals and birds. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. In addition, riverine habitats in interior regions supported smaller, but practical, otter populations. A number of reintroduction projects have been initiated to help halt the reduction in the overall population. See more ideas about otters, otter love, river otter. When river otters are born, they don't know how to swim -- so their mothers teach them. Where they live: [12] The smell and hearing abilities of the North American river otter are acute. Females give birth to 1 to 6 young per litter, with an average of 2 to 3. They eat a variety of animals, including They host numerous endoparasites, such as nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, the sporozoan Isopora, and acanthocephalans. In Maine, use of watersheds by North American river otters is negatively associated with the proportion of mixed hardwood-softwood stands in forested areas adjacent to waterways. [15], The North American river otter is physically well-equipped for aquatic life. 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. Introduces them to the water many other studies did not report any findings of North American river pelts. 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