I LOVE otters!!!!! They are my favorite wild animal and if it weren't illegal and impractical I would so love to have one for a pet. :D First lets look at some pictures I took at a zoo last year, then I'll tell you all about otters.
I love how sociable, playful and happy they are!
Two otters playing, the one you can barely see is biting the cheek of his buddy hehe.
Watching them play makes me so happy. My husband had to drag me away from the otter exhibit at the zoo. I could stay there for hours! Their happiness is so infectious. :D
Stopping for a scratch hehe.
Otters are in the weasel family Mustelidae (subfamily Lutrinae) which includes minks, weasels, martens, badgers, wolverines and polecats. Males are called dogs, females are bitches and offspring are pups. They live in a den called a holt or couch. The newborn learns to swim at two months old and lives with it's family for a year. Otters can live up to sixteen years!
There are 13 species of otter (I had to look them all up). More info HERE.
North American River
The ones we see and hear most about are the sea otter, giant otter and river otter, so I'm going to tell you a bit about each one. You can learn more about all sorts of otters HERE.
The giant otter lives in South America and is known as the river wolf. They can be over five feet long and weigh up to 70 pounds!! Although they are the biggest otters, the sea otter actually weighs more. Giant otters live in groups of up to 20. They are active during the day and eat fish, fish eggs, frogs, etc. They've even been known to eat Anacondas!
The North American river otter lives in Alaska, Canada and much of the United States. They can dive up to sixty feet and swim for a quarter mile before coming up for air! They can swim 7 miles per hour!! They are typically three to four feet long and can weigh up to twenty pounds. They love to slide! They will slide across ice or down mud slides in the riverbank.
The sea otter can be distinguished from the river otters by their flattened tails and their flipper like hind feet. If you've ever seen pictures of otters floating belly up in the water, that's probably a sea otter. They spend a lot of time floating like that, even sleeping! While sleeping they will hold hands with their buddies to keep from floating away from each other. They spend almost all of their lives at sea, even giving birth in the water! Sea otters range from Japan, Russia, Alaska to Baja California. They may live as long as twenty years in the wild and grow up to five feet and weigh up to 100 pounds!! They also have the densest fur of any other mammal which is how they stay warm since they don't have blubber like most marine mammals. The air trapped in their fur holds in their body heat. They keep the air in their fur by blowing into with with their mouths. How cool is that? Sea otters also will often carry a rock in a pouch under their forearm and use them to smash open shells, making them one of the relatively small number of animals which use tools. :) How can you not love these guys??