North American River Otter

North American River Otter

Lutra canadensis

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Quick Facts
3' to 4'
6 lbs to 30 lbs
Wild diet: Fish, frogs, crayfish, aquatic insects, clams and turtles
Zoo Diet: Carnivore diet, dog food, fish, crayfish, clams, fruits, vegetables and eggs
Distribution: Alaska, most of Canada and parts of the continental United States south to Florida
Habitat: Rivers, wetlands along rivers, streams, swamps, ponds and lakes

River otters have brown fur on the back with paler underbellies. The lower jaw and throat is whitish. They have a head that looks flat on top but is otherwise rounded and supported by a short neck that is as wide as their skull. The body of a river otter is cylindrical and ends in a muscular and flexible tail that is thicker at the base than at the tip. They have short legs and webbed toes that allow them to thrive as swimmers. However, as aquatic mammals, they also have small ears and nostrils which can be closed underwater, allowing them to hold their breath until they resurface.

Status in the Wild

Populations are adversely affected by water pollution, habitat destruction and fur trapping. However, sustained conservation efforts in certain parts of their historic range - especially in the interior of the United States -- have increased riverine populations in those areas.

Conservation Programs

Listed as of “least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).

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