Threats. This means that they have to eat a lot during the day. The river otter population continues to decline to this day. In water, especially along the Gulf Coast, crocodilian reptiles are real threats. Gestation is for two months, but young may be produced up to a year after breeding due to delayed implantation. Its fur ranges in color from white and gray to brown and black. North American River Otters can adapt to a wide variety of aquatic habitats. Its short, muscular legs move surprisingly well on land, and is usually seen traveling in pairs (Foresman 2012). There is no significant threat today from commercial harvesting, but illegal hunting can affect local populations. River otters can tolerate a variety of environments, including cold and warmer latitudes and high elevations. Otters have the thickest fur of any mammal, having as many as 850,000 hairs per square inch. River Otter Habitat. North American river otters are the only river otter that is found north of Mexico. Habitat of the North American River Otter. 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. However, there is a type of wild animal that fits this description extremely well: the otter. River otters are found throughout most of North America from the Rio Grande to Canada and Alaska, except for in arid deserts and the treeless Arctic. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Webbed feet and a very strong tail both propel them quickly and gracefully through the water. Babies first learn to swim when they are about 2 months old. 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. Key Information: This is the smallest of the world’s otters, about 0.9 m long, weighing around 5 kg. River otters are frequently caught in beaver traps on accident. Some threats to river otters include habitat development and loss, hunting and trapping, habitat alterations and damming, disease from invasive species, and pollution. North American river otter is important predator of fish and aquatic invertebrates. Within the National Forest System (NFS), a sensitive species is a plant … They do live on land too but you may not see that as apparent as with other species of Otters. The Buttonwood Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for North American River Otters. Threats: habitat d… This includes a wide range of habitats, from rivers, streams and creeks, to coastal waters, lakes and swamps. One of the most unfortunate river otter facts is that these animals are currently threatened by habitat loss. River otters (genus Lutra) inhabit all types of inland waterways, as well as estuaries and marine coves. flashcard set{{course.flashcardSetCoun > 1 ? Physical characteristics help otters with their outstanding swimming abilities. © copyright 2003-2020 Study.com. Habitat: Found in streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and along marine coasts that have vegetation or rock piles along the banks. River otters eat fish, and fish populations are threatened by climate change from rising sea levels. Terrestrial predators of otters include black bears and a variety of Feline and Canine species, domestic… The aquatic mammal sports short, dense, waterproof fur and profuse whiskers. 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. It is more nocturnal in summer and its eyes reflect a faint amber glow at night. Get the unbiased info you need to find the right school. They have short, powerful legs that help them to paddle in the water and gallop on land. Probably the most active animals in the Zoo, river otters stay on the go for a large part of the day. In the wild, their average life span is 8 or 9 years. If fish numbers start to decrease or they move elsewhere as a result of climate change, this species would lose its major food source. They tend to stick to freshwater areas including lakes and rivers. They live in riparian zones, often in the same areas as beavers. Earn Transferable Credit & Get your Degree. The Southern River Otter is much more rare and the Marine Otter is on the verge of extinction with 3 isolated population the most important of which is found in the Naheul Huapi National Park (Aued, M.B et al 2003). Giant otters (genus Pteronura) are found mainly in slow-moving rivers and creeks within forests, swamps, and mars… It is very well adapted to life in water. This animal’s lovely waterproof pelt, which allows it to regulate its temperature, in the 1700s-1800s, a regular part of French fur trade, has meant this animal has been hunted for hundreds of years. Its very long whiskers help with the detection of its prey while underwater. They are able to live in a variety of different habitats, including rivers, lakes and large creeks. Many "play" activities serve a purpose, such as strengthening social bonds, practicing hunting techniques, and scent marking. The Neotropical otter is the only species which is widespread especially in the central and northern parts of the country. 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. Range and habitat. Mothers nudge the tiny otters into the water, and then strong instincts take over. Coyotes, large raptors and bobcats are just a few animals that hunt otters. Most species are entirely dependent on aquatic habitats for food. Characteristics: The features of North American river otters allow them to succeed both on land and in the water. North American River Otter Wikipedia article -, 2. North American river otters are semiaquatic mammals that do not hibernate when winter comes around. 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. 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. North American river otters are found anywhere there is a permanent food supply and easy access to water. In this lesson, we will take a closer look at one particular species, the North American River Otter. A range of vocalizations is also used to communicate, the most common sound amongst a group being a low frequency noise that sounds like chuckling, while loud snorts are often used for signaling potential danger. A member of the weasel family, the North American River Otter has a long body with short but strong legs. first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. The only types of ecosystems in which otters cannot be found are deserts, mountains, and polar regions. However, the otter is being restored to places where it is regionally threatened, resulting in an otter come back in many places. Births take place from November to May, peaking in March and April. North American River Otter on The IUCN Red List site -, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_river_otter, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12302/0. Their aquatic habitats can be both marine and fresh water: streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes. 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) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family.While it may simply be called the "river otter" in North America (to distinguish it from the sea otter) there are other river otter species throughout the world. Our otters eat a prepared meat diet and several types of fish. In 2002 one was reported in a river on the Patagonian steppe.” Legal protection: All species protected. Log in here for access. credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level. North American River Otter Habitat. Cognitive Learning Activities for the Classroom, Tech and Engineering - Questions & Answers, Health and Medicine - Questions & Answers, Working Scholars® Bringing Tuition-Free College to the Community. The North American River Otter is quite versatile, making its home in lakes, swamps, ponds and marshes, in addition to rivers. What are some facts about this animal and what makes it unique? and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you. Create your account, Already registered? The otter population has been reduced by water pollution, uncontrolled trapping, and severe habitat loss. Study.com has thousands of articles about every Their nostrils close as they zip around underwater, helping them hold their breath for up to 8 minutes. ANIMALS INCLUDED. About North American River Otters. North American river otter conservation. Unlike some other semi-aquatic animals, the North American River Otter is quite good at bounding around on land as well. The otters have fur when they are born, but are otherwise helpless. Birthing and the raising of young takes place in a den near water. Here are a few reasons why you should cast your vote for our otter habitat! Create an account to start this course today. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. Its fur ranges in color from white and gray to brown and black. Get access risk-free for 30 days, The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Human contact is influencing this otter’s aquatic habitats. Their most favorable interior habitats are lowland marshes, swamps, and bogs connected by streams and lakes. The Defenders of Wildlife resource, based on harvest reports, estimates the North American otter’s total population size to be over 100,000 individuals. The North American River Otter is a playful, semi-aquatic mammal found in waterways of North America. They will sometimes eat plants, and even the occasional small mammal, such as a rabbit. Sometimes they eat aquatic plants. Groups typically travel and hunt together, and also use the same resting site and den. It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. Anyone can earn Extensive trapping pressure, habitat loss or degradation, and urban development forced river otter populations near the point of extinction with the expansion of Europeans into the New World nearly 100 years ago. Although its name also suggests that it is only a river-dwelling animal, this isn't true. The Northern River Otter is found both in Canada and the United States. Being aquatic in nature, this species is confined to places that have permanent water. River otters can be found throughout North America. The otter is hunted by coyotes, raptors, bobcats and alligators, and typically lives to be 8-9 years old in the wild. › River Otter Habitat. This animal’s lovely waterproof pelt, which allows it to regulate its temperature, in the 1700s-1800s, a regular part of French fur trade, has meant this animal has been hunted for hundreds of years. 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. Select a subject to preview related courses: The North American River Otter is an animal with a very high metabolism, so it must eat quite often. It is around 3-4 feet in length, weighing around 11-30 pounds. The average lifespan of the North American River Otter is about 8-9 years in the wild, although they can live much longer in captivity. Visit the Kingdom Animalia: Study Guide & Review page to learn more. They can live in freshwater and coastal marine habitats, including rivers, lakes, marshes, swamps, and estuaries. While North American River otters are rather high up on the food chain, they do in fact have several natural predators. Most of these problems are due to water pollution. You can test out of the All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. Southern River Otter: Habitat, Population & Adaptations, Quiz & Worksheet - North American River Otter, Over 83,000 lessons in all major subjects, {{courseNav.course.mDynamicIntFields.lessonCount}}, Eurasian Otter: Habitat, Diet, Lifespan & Facts, Hairy-Nosed Otter: Habitat, Breeding & Population, Spotted-Necked Otter: Habitat, Diet, Lifespan & Facts, Smooth-Coated Otter: Habitat, Adaptations & Facts, African Clawless Otter: Habitat, Population & Lifespan, Asian Small-Clawed Otter: Habitat, Breeding & Adaptations, European Mink: Facts, Habitat, Adaptations & Population, What is a Mongoose? Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. North American Otter Facts: North American river otters are swimming mammals that live in the water on a part-time basis, as they also spend significant amount of time on land. In southern Chile the marine otter is found almost exclusively along exposed rocky seashores; farther north it may inhabit estuaries and fresh water. 's' : ''}}. The North American river otter is a member of the weasel family. - Anatomy, Family & Diet, Baikal Seal: Habitat, Adaptations, Predators & Facts, Ringed Seal: Habitat, Population & Adaptations, Signs, Symptoms & Causes of Bloat in Dogs, Biological and Biomedical These animals inhabit a variety of diverse environments, from saltwater estuaries to freshwater lakes, rivers, marshes and streams 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. A female gives birth to 1 to 6 young in each litter, averaging 2 to 3. Let's take a closer look at this playful creature. The North American River Otter is a playful, semi-aquatic mammal found in rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes of North America. 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. Least Concern (IUCN) Even with stable populations the North American River Otter still needs help keeping their populations safe. Mothers will catch and release prey to teach their young how to forage and to catch food items. North American river otters have been trapped for their highly-prized furs, resulting in a steep decrease in population since the 1800s. Enrolling in a course lets you earn progress by passing quizzes and exams. They are primarily nocturnal, but become more diurnal in winter, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. 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