They may eat smaller kills in the water, but bring larger ones to shore.  North American river otters generally feed on prey that is in larger supply and easier to catch. Male North American river otters do not seem to be territorial, and newly dispersing males may join established male groups.  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. North American river otters are active year-round, and are most active at night and during crepuscular hours. , North American river otters do not dramatically reduce prey populations in the wild, generally speaking. They enjoy carp, sunfish, minnows, suckers, sculpin and salmonids such as trout and salmon. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. Sliding occurs mostly on even surfaces of snow or ice, but can also occur on grassy slopes and muddy banks. These qualities give the North American river otter a streamlined profile in water, but reduce agility on land. , During the 1970s, improvements in natural resource management techniques emerged, along with increased concerns about North American river otter population declines in North America. Home ranges of North American river otters increase in size on oiled areas compared to unoiled areas, and individual otters also modify their habitat use. However, playful behavior was found in only 6% of 294 observations in a study in Idaho, and was limited mostly to immature otters.. Encounters between North American river otters and beavers are not necessarily hostile. North American river otters are not scavengers; they avoid consuming carrion. Resolution of such conflicts will usually require removal and/or relocation of nuisance otters. , Like other otters, the North American river otter lives in a holt, or den, constructed in the burrows of other animals, or in natural hollows, such as under a log or in river banks. Although the distribution became reduced in some regions of southern Canada, the only province-wide extirpation occurred on Prince Edward Island. Its body length ranges from 66 to 107 centimetres (26 to 42 in). This dilemma prevents, and consequently inhibits, recolonization or growth of North American river otter populations.  Slow-moving species include suckers (Catostomidae), catfish, sunfish and bass (Centrarchidae), daces, carp, and shiners (Cyprinidae). Mating Behavior. , In early spring, expectant mothers begin to look for a den where they can give birth. These include mudminnows (Umbra limi) and sculpins (Cottus spp.). Sometimes they eat aquatic plants. The North American river otter scent-marks with feces, urine, and possibly anal sac secretions. On occasion, groups of unrelated juveniles are observed. North American river otters also inhabit the forested regions of the Pacific coast in North America. The tail, which is stout and larger in surface area than the limbs, is used for stability while swimming and for short bursts of rapid propulsion. Accidental deaths may be the result of ice flows or shifting rocks. The giant river otters have also been noted to feed on small anacondas and caimans.  A 1994 river otter study reported findings of beaver remains in 27 of 1,191 scats analyzed. Breeding is from December to April: late winter or early in spring. Reduced lobulation of the lungs is presumed to be adaptive for underwater swimming. In the late 1970s, annual harvest in North America reached approximately 50,000 pelts, for a value of US$3 million. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians (such as salamanders and frogs), freshwater clams, mussels, snails, small turtles and crayfish. The spraint sites of the otters along the Alaskan coast are large, with very prominent “ heaps of scats ” over huge areas, near holts (otter …  The mammal was identified as a species of otter and has a variety of common names, including North American river otter, northern river otter, common otter and, simply, river otter.  However, many other studies did not report any findings of North American beaver remains in the scat sampled. North American river otters are very susceptible to the effects of environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers. From mid-winter through the breeding season, adult females move and den alone. Outside of fish, river otters will also eat crustaceans, insects, birds, oysters, shellfish, turtles and a number of other aquatic life. A highly active predator, the North American river otter has adapted to hunting in water, and eats aquatic and semiaquatic animals. The northern river otter, also known as the North American river otter or the common otter, is a mammal which inhabits much of the United States and Canada, but in Wisconsin, they are most prevalent in the northern half of the state. Also, North American river otters have large molars used for crushing hard objects, such as the shells of molluscs. Ectoparasites include ticks, sucking lice(Latagophthirus rauschi), and fleas (Oropsylla arctomys).  Otters are known to take larger fish on land to eat, whereas smaller fish are consumed in the water. While otters prefer to dine on slow-moving fish (which are easier to catch), they will also eat game fish, crustaceans and mollusks, aquatic reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, and smaller semi-aquatic mammals as availability dictates.  Crustaceans (crayfish), where regionally available, are the second-most important prey for otters. What do they look like? However, the Eurasian otter is the only otter in much of its range, so it is rarely confused for any other animal. The North American river otter has many natural predators but typically can avoid them by escaping quickly to a burrow or to water. Otters usually hide and launch surprise, lunging attacks on their prey.  Likewise, the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is a preferred fish species for the North American river otter in other regions of Colorado. , CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, "Expert says otter attacks are rare after St. Pete dog killed", "Dog attacked by otters in Lakewood, homeowners say", "7 Surprising Facts About the Giant River Otter", "Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: Resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation", 10.1644/1545-1410(2002)712<0001:LM>2.0.CO;2, "North American River Otter – National Wildlife Federation", "Basic Facts About North American River Otters", "Distribution and abundance of river otter in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota", "Food habits of the river otter in Suisun Marsh, Central California", "Feeding relationships of river otters in northeastern Pennsylvania", Food habits of the North American river otter (, "Social Networks and the Formation and Maintenance of River Otter Groups", "Art Lander's Outdoors: Once endangered river otters now likely to be found in Kentucky for generations", Colorado Otters May No Longer Need Protection, "Final report of the North American river otter research project on the Upper Colorado River Basin in and adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado", https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lontra_canadensis/, COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Grizzly Bear, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=North_American_river_otter&oldid=992972571, Articles with unsourced statements from May 2009, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 8 December 2020, at 02:59. During winter, otters are active during the daytime. The North American river otters may leave the den by eight weeks and are capable of sustaining themselves upon the arrival of fall, but they usually stay with their families, which sometimes include the father, until the following spring. During the breeding, the male grabs the female by the neck with his teeth. Otters have a long body covered in soft brown fur.  It differs from the European otter by its longer neck, narrower visage, the smaller space between the ears and its shorter tail. Pups will open their eyes when they are one month old and are weaned when about 3 months old, starting to leave their birth range from 6 months to the age of one year. Even in larger bodies of water, they may take disproportional advantage of any seasonal concentrations of fish when and where only very limited areas of suitable spawning, low-flow, or over-wintering habitat may exist. in hatcheries or other fish culture facilities). Crustaceans may even be consumed more than fish. the river otter is opportunistic … , The right lung of the North American river otter is larger than the left, having four lobes compared with two for the left. Hollows in the banks of ponds and rivers make excellent dens and so do former Beaver lodges. A North American river otter's main requirements are a steady food supply and easy access to a body of water. Little effort has gone into assessing the threat of disease to wild North American river otter populations, so it is poorly understood and documented. But around the turn of the 19th century, overhunting and a lack of wildlife management decimated the river otter population in North Carolina’s mountains and Piedmont.   The North American river otters have also been known to catch and consume moulting American wigeon (Mareca americana) and green-winged teal (Anas crecca). North American river otters may be victims of canine distemper, rabies, respiratory tract disease, and urinary infection. It is not uncommon for anglers to have to fight river otters …  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. North American river otter pelts are used as the standard for rating the quality of other pelts. 1. , North American river otters may prefer to feed on crustaceans, especially crayfish (Cambarus, Pacifasticus, and others) and crabs more than fish where they are locally and seasonally plentiful. North American River Otters. 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. The North American river otter (Lutra canadensis) is found in almost every state, including Virginia.River otters are extremely social and often frolic in the water with their mates or cubs, slide down hills on their bellies or wrestle with other otters on land. streams, lakes, wetlands) along marine coasts in the United States and Canada, including parts of the Pacific Northwest. The North American river otter has a delicate sense of touch in the paws in addition to great dexterity. The use of den and resting sites is chiefly opportunistic, although locations that provide protection and seclusion are preferred. River otters can tolerate a variety of environments, including cold and warmer latitudes and high elevations.  Specific species of reptiles and amphibians prey include: boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata); Canadian toads (Bufo hemiophrys); wood frogs (Rana sylvatica); bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana); green frogs (Rana clamitans); northwestern salamanders (Ambystoma gracile); Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus); rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa); and garter snakes (Thamnophis). Prey is captured with a quick lunge from ambush, or more rarely, after a sustained chase. The rhinarium is bare, with an obtuse, triangular projection. North American river otters are inadvertently harvested by traps set for North American beavers, and therefore management plans should consider both species simultaneously. The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. ); darters (Etheostoma spp. The species is widely distributed throughout its range. In Idaho, North American river otters and beavers were recorded in the same beaver lodge simultaneously on three separate occasions. Copulation is vigorous, and is interrupted by periods of rest. Otters have the thickest fur of any mammal, having as many as 850,000 hairs per square inch. The river otter food web plays a crucial role in the environments the river otter calls home. Males may breed with more than one female during the year. In many places, the populations have re-established themselves because of conservation initiatives. , The North American river otter has few natural predators when in water. North American river otters are natural swimmers and, with parental supervision, they acquire the skills necessary to swim. The North American river otters are carnivores, they eat mainly aquatic animals such as amphibians, turtles, fish, crayfish, crabs, and other species of invertebrates. Otters live in dens along the shorelines and are not too bashful to take over burrows that were built by groundhogs, beavers or muskrats.  North American river otters only settle in areas that consist of vegetation, rock piles, and sufficient coverage. Being aquatic in nature, this species is confined to places that have permanent water. A male river otter appears to approach females indiscriminately until it finds one that is receptive. What do North American River Otters eat? The giant river otters are excellent predators. Otters are large river mammal in the subfamily Lutrinae that can grow up to 30+ pounds and almost 4 feet long. In all habitats, their basic social group is the family, consisting of an adult female and her progeny.  This availability is influenced by the following factors: detectability and mobility of the prey, habitat availability for the various prey species, environmental factors, such as water depth and temperature, and seasonal changes in prey supply and distribution in correspondence with otter foraging habitat. Even such fast-swimming species as trout become lethargic in extremely cold water, with a commensurate increase in their vulnerability to predation. North American river otters get their boundless energy from their very high metabolism, which also requires that they eat a great deal during the day. North American river otter (or common otter): Found in and along North America’s waterways and coasts, these otters weigh between 11 and 31 lbs (5-14kg). Zookeeper Samantha introduces us to 2 adorable residents of the … Otter play mostly consists of wrestling with conspecifics. Some otters meet their demise in the jaws of coyotes, bobcats, lynx, and wolves on land and occasionally by transient killer whales in the sea. River otters prefer larger fish due to ease of capture; larger prey gives river otters more energy as well. When the mothers have established their domains, they give birth to several kits. These analyses suggest they diverged in the Miocene epoch 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago (Mya), which is "much earlier" than indicated in the fossil record. As a result, slow-swimming fish are consumed more often than game fishes when both are equally available. , Aquatic life ties North American river otters almost exclusively to permanent watersheds.  Delayed implantation distinguishes the species from the European otter, which lacks this feature.  Large male North American river otters can exceed a weight of 15 kilograms (33 lb). ), chubs (Semotilus spp. The species name was Lutra canadensis. River Otters also need plenty of prey. Daily movements of family groups averaged 4.7, 4.4, and 2.4 km (2.9, 2.7, and 1.5 mi) in spring, summer, and winter, respectively. , Amphibians and reptiles are more obtainable by the North American river otter during the spring and summer as a result of breeding activity, appropriate temperatures, and water supply for the prey. 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) . , The North American river otter is physically well-equipped for aquatic life. Rear leg paddling enables continuous sliding where gravity is an insufficient or an opposing force. A number of reintroduction projects have been initiated to help halt the reduction in the overall population. These animals have boundless energy due to their very high metabolism.  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