Missoula, MT. The river otter food chain consists mostly of fish. 429 pp. J. Dianne Dotson is a science writer with a degree in zoology/ecology and evolutionary biology. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. Foresman, K.R. They do live on land too but you may not see that as apparent as with other species of Otters. 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. The river otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae). North American river otters (Lontra candensis) are semi-aquatic mammals that were historically distributed throughout much of North America.Otters are native to Ohio but were extirpated by the early 1900s. River otters consume both aquatic animal and plant life, with some exceptions. They do fine in both cold and warm temperatures of water. It has a wide, rounded head with small ears and long, white whiskers. Northern River Otter. The river otter is Minnesota's largest aquatic carnivore that lives in most northern Minnesota lakes, ponds, and streams. River otters are apex predators in various watershed environments. They use their long, agile bodies to swim and hunt for many prey species such as fish, amphibians, crustaceans and other organisms. It has a long, slender body covered in brown, water proof fur. The Northern River Otter is found both in Canada and the United States. For this reason, the river otter must consume food often. Few river otter predators exist in nature. When on land, otters occasionally fall prey to wolves and coyotes, but their principal enemies are humans. Dens and lodges are used by river otters as rest and natal sites. A female river otter exhibits delayed implantation of her fertilized egg, so that it will not implant on her uterus for several months. River otters help thin invasive species and protect biodiversity. The long guard hairs remain pliable in very cold weather (Ulrich 1986), and the dense underfur traps air to insulate it in water. River otters prefer larger fish due to ease of capture; larger prey gives river otters more energy as well. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 289 p. Dobkin, D. S.  1992. 2004); Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements; Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system; Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat". Peterson, and R.L. Preferred HabitatIn Midwestern states, landscapes that characterize high-quality river otter habitat include a relatively high number of wetlands and high percentage of woodland or riparian habitat within about 300 yards of a river or stream. Order of importance varies: sunfish, suckers, sculpin, trout, invertebrates, and frogs. Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database. River otters use their fine sense of smell on land; below the water, their eyesight is far keener. River otters possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water. This tail serves to propel the otters through water. Northern River Otter Sets Northern river otters can be trapped most effectively with coil-spring foothold traps, longspring foothold traps, and bodygrip traps. Small eyes and ears, a broad, flattened head, long cylindrical form, and four webbed feet suit it for its semiaquatic life. River otters chew their food well, leaving very little waste. Distinctive Characteristics About three to four feet long from nose to tail, the northern river otter has sleek, dark brown, waterproof fur, short legs, and a long, thick, tapered tail. 1998. 262 p. Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems, Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems, Web Search Engines for Articles on "Northern River Otter", Additional Sources of Information Related to "Mammals". Its thick, powerful tail makes up nearly 20 inches of that length. 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. Young. Open-water stream channels used (Zackheim 1982). Its short, muscular legs move surprisingly well on land, and is usually seen traveling in pairs (Foresman 2012). The adult Northern River Otter in Montana weighs around 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long. The playful North American river otter is well adapted for semi-aquatic living. Its numbers have been greatly reduced through loss of habitat and through hunting and trapping in most of its former range. The northern river otter (Lutra canadensis) historically lived in or near lakes, marshes, streams, and seashores throughout much of the North American continent. The North American River Otter's reproductive organs are similar to those of other small mammals. Their high metabolisms result in rapid food digestion. The female otter's ovaries increase in size as maturation occurs. Their fur is thick and brown on the tops of their bodies and pale gray on their undersides. Otters often are found in aquatic habitats associated with beaver activity and in shallow pools or below small dams where fish are concentrated. This tail serves to propel the otters through water. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. Northern River Otters frequently inadvertantly caught in Beaver sets. Copyright Jeff Rice, all rights reserved. Northern River Otter Lontra canadensis. Otters are considered lucky animals in many Native American cultures and the otter is a symbol of loyalty and honesty in some West Coast tribes, but in northern British Columbia and the Alaskan coast, river otters (usually called "land-otters") were associated with ghosts and drowning and were regarded by the people with awe and dread. Mainly fish. They enjoy carp, sunfish, minnows, suckers, sculpin and salmonids such as: River otters also prefer slower-moving fish to game fish. River otters also use fallen trees or logjams for shelter or foraging. Their dense, short under-fur is overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel wa… Second edition. The mammals have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. They tend to stick to freshwater areas including lakes and rivers. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. Tobalske, B.A. Male otters can grow to almost 4 feet long and can weigh up to 28 pounds. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. It weighs around 5 – 14 kg (11 – 31 lb). 72 p. Maxell, B.A. The otter was soon nicknamed Sutro Sam, and drew in legions of curious onlookers as he caught and chomped down fish, gathered reeds for bedding, and groomed or sunbathed on the concrete wall separating the baths from the beach. Canadian Journal of Zoology: Seasonal Diet of the Northern River Otter (Lontra Canadensis): What Drives Prey Selection? On average, otters range from 36 to 50 inches long from their head to the tip of the tail. Wary in the wild, they are, nonetheless, sociable, docile, playful animals and easily domesticated. When winter arrives, river otters will hunt under ice for food. They are highly adaptable animals so as long as they have access to enough food and water they can thrive. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. River otters can be found throughout much of the United States, Canada and Mexico around the Rio Grande and Colorado River deltas. The river otter food chain also consists of mussels, bivalves, snails, crabs, crayfish, turtles, frogs, large beetles, worms, injured waterfowl or chicks, bird eggs, fish eggs, snakes and snake eggs. River otters possess special valves to seal their ears and noses while they swim underwater. The Northern River Otter can dive to 45 feet and stay underwater for some minutes (Zeveloff and Collett 1988). Northern river otters have thick lustrous fur. North American river otters are the only river otter that is found north of Mexico. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. Its feet are webbed. Generally solitary, river otters do engage in play when they meet. High flow volume water, densely vegetated and undercut banks preferable, non-turbid water and presence of sloughs and side channels to serve as brood rearing habitat are also important in winter. Typically such dens are makeshift, from log piles or similar natural sources, but often they will use former beaver or nutria dens as well. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. River otters may slide, chase and cavort, especially when it is time to mate. Young river otters prove to be the most susceptible to predators. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin: Prey Preference of the North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) Evaluated Based on Optimal Foraging Theory. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. Overview. Bodygrip traps should be used only in submersion sets. River otters are strong, unmatched swimmers in their environments, and on land they can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. River otters possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water. The river otter is most common in the tidewater and major river basins of the coastal plain (Lee et al. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also called the Canadian otter, is the most abundant species of otter. The American river otter is a graceful and beautiful addition to many North Carolina rivers. River otter habitat. Today, reintroduction efforts and stricter environmental regulation aid the increasing numbers of river otters. It can swim and maneuver better than many fish, and swims with only the top of its head out of the water. Its thick, powerful tail makes up nearly 20 inches of that length. She spent nine years working in laboratory and clinical research. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. and J.S. McLaughlin, C.M. The river otter food chain also includes aquatic plants and roots. River otters play the role of apex predators, so the river otter food web represents great importance to many watersheds. The long whiskers around their noses, called vibrissae, aid in food searches in murkier waters. View in other NatureServe Network Field Guides, It seems your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). River otters are apex predators in their food web. In the right habitat, River Otters can be found throughout Georgia. Perhaps higher human-caused mortality than reported. The female births a litter of two to four pups in the spring. Their … The river otter food web plays a crucial role in the environments the river otter calls home. They are found throughout most of North America – from the Rio Grande in Northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. River otters may live along rivers, lakes, ponds, sloughs, bays, estuaries or even along a seacoast. Publication No. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. Ecological Systems Associated with this Species. The adult Northern River Otter in Montana weighs around 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long. The face is short with small ears. The few natural river otter predators include bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars and dogs. River otters belong to the weasel family. Channel Set for Otters Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. The young are born fur-covered, but blind (Burt and Grossenheider 1964), they are weaned in approximately 91 days (Toweill and Tabor 1982), and they are ready to fend for themselves at eight months of age (Zeveloff and Collett 1988). These pregnant females seek shelter in dens lined with vegetation. A lifelong writer, Dianne is also a content manager and science fiction & fantasy novelist. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Image of canadensis, nature, otter - 28343614 He’s trying to climb up the pipe!” It was then that the explainer in me wanted to jump in and say, actually, no. The fat layer underneath their skin protects them from cold temperatures. The river otter is a semi-aquatic mammal found throughout Massachusetts’ lakes, rivers, and coastal habitats. A sea otter! Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. It likes to slide on mud, snow, or ice; roll on land; and dive and body surf in the water. Audio file courtesy of the Acoustic Atlas at Montana State University (www.acousticatlas.org), (Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version), (Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts), Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMAJF10010, Rocky Mountain Dry-Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest, Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland, Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland, Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Shrubland, Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland, Rocky Mountain Lower Montane, Foothill, and Valley Grassland, Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Mesic Meadow, Rocky Mountain Subalpine Deciduous Shrubland, Beaver Institute (research, management, education), Beavers Northwest (conflict resolution, conservation, education), Identification Manual to the Small Mammals of British Columbia, Montana Department of Agriculture Vertebrate Pest Bulletins, Natural Heritage MapViewer (Statewide Database of Animal Observations), Species Accounts for Mammals of the World, Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations. I, too, assumed that sea + otter = sea otter. Females typically are smaller. Here's some links if you want to download a whole group. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. Sighting one can be an exciting occasion for boaters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts because of the creature’s secretive nature and relative rarity in some waters. Hart, M.M., W.A. 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. Their thick fur made them highly prized for their pelts. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. Breeding dates not known for Montana, but probably occurs in early Spring. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. R1-93-34. North American River Otter The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. Maxell, D.P. The animal slides down mud and snow seemingly for the sheer delight of it. Small eyes and ears, a broad, flattened head, long cylindrical form, and four webbed feet suit it for its semiaquatic life. Underwater, the river otter swims as fast as 7 miles per hour with considerable grace and agility, necessary for catching prey. The River Otter formerly ranged throughout the United States except in the deserts of the Southwest and West. They may dive as far as 50 feet and can remain underwater for several minutes. It has 36 teeth. A North American river otter had traveled to and set up camp in San Francisco for the first time in over 50 years. Here is a to the audio instead. Small mammals in the river otter food chain include mice, immature beavers and muskrats. Species: Lontra canadensis No children of Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis) found. These pups stay with their mother until autumn. Hendricks, C.R. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. Thought to be nearly extirpated from the mountains and upper piedmont by the 1930s, reintroduction projects in the mountains have reestablished a small population there. The male reproductive system contains a penis, testes, scrotum and more while the female reproductive system contains a vagina, ovaries, etc. 161 p. Werner, J.K., B.A. Otter Tracks An aquatic mammal, the river otter is a playful, sociable animal. They have short legs, webbed feet for faster swimming, and a long, narrow body and flattened head for streamlined movement in the water. Redmond. Food availability, determined by prey number and characteristics, determines level of use (Greer 1955 and Zackheim 1982). Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. River otters belong to the weasel family. Currently, many populations along the coastal United States and Canada are stable or increasing, but this species is rare or extirpated throughout much of the Midwestern United States. Copyright 2021 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. River otters (Lontra canadensis) are amphibious mammals known for their swimming ability. 1982). Thornton, K.P. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. Protecting these fascinating, playful animals aids many species. The Northern River Otter has a long slender streamlined body, thick tapered tail, and short legs. Habitats that retain open water in winter are i… They are known to dig tunnels under the … River otters grow 26 to 40 inches in length, not including the tail, and weigh up to 18 pounds; males are approximately 17 percent large… These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. Probably breed every 2 to 3 years. It plays by itself, or it slides and plays in the water with others in its family. 2012. But instead, I held back and listened to the conversation, thinking back to ten years ago or so when I first saw river otters in the ocean. Adams, R.A.  2003. River otter habitat. Enlarge Image . River otters do not store food or hibernate in winter. They live in riparian zones, which are the areas that border stream, rivers, and lakes. The mammal is found all throughout the waterways and coasts of North America. River otters can live up to about 10 years in the wild. Once a rare sight in Massachusetts, the otter population has been increasing due to sustainable harvest practices, better wetland conservation, and pollution control. 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. The river otter has a long, streamlined body with dense brown fur. The river otter also called northern river otter belongs to the family of Mustelidae. The northern river otter (Lontra canadensis, formerly Lutra canadensis) is a semi-aquatic carnivorous mammal in the Mustelidae or “weasel family” which includes weasels, minks, ferrets, wolverines and badgers. Look for this PDF icon at the top of each page as you search and browse. Common otter is the other name for this animal. After an absence of more than a century, its … 2000. The fur is dark brown or almost black above with lighter underside. Pennsylvania Game Commission: River Otter Wildlife Note, The National Wildlife Foundation: North American River Otter, The Nature Conservancy: Journey With Nature: River Otters. Photo about Northern river otter on the wood. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Dianne features science as well as writing topics on her website, jdiannedotson.com. They can also weigh anywhere from 11 to 30 pounds. One of nature’s most social and playful creatures, the northern river otter is often seen in pairs or groups frolicking in waterways, sliding on the mudflats or rolling on logs. Mammals of Montana. 1999. In addition, its fur, dark brown on top, silvery or paler brown on the throat, chest, and underside, has special qualities. The North American river otter was once nearly eliminated in Missouri, but thanks to restoration efforts, these powerful swimmers are once again found throughout most of the state. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. 1302 p. Hutto, R.L. The river otter food web maintains great biodiversity. Once abundant throughout the watersheds of the United States and Canada, river otter numbers suffered greatly due to hunting by humans. Marsh near Punished Woman's Lake. When cornered on land, they will fight and scratch. River otters reach sexual maturity at two years. Its throat and belly are golden or silvery brown. You can download select species by searching or when you're on a Taxa page like Class, Order, and Family. Otters have sharp claws on their feet to catch prey. Habitat loss and water pollution also took detrimental tolls on river otters. Without river otters, entire watershed food webs would suffer. They do live on land, and is usually seen traveling in pairs Foresman. Highly adaptable animals so as long as they have access to enough food and water they thrive... Otter in Montana weighs around 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long delayed implantation of fertilized. Level of use ( Greer 1955 and Zackheim 1982 ) powerful tail makes up nearly 20 inches of length... Service, Rocky Mountain West ; natural history, ecology, and coastal habitats several. Several minutes eyesight is far keener swims with only the top of its head out of the with... Cousins, the river otter had traveled to and set up camp in San Francisco for the time!, lakes, rivers, and short legs water, their eyesight is far keener spent... The Rio Grande river and the United States warm while swimming in cold waters with beaver activity and in pools. Characteristics, determines level of use ( Greer 1955 and Zackheim 1982 ) weighs around pounds. Years in the Spring science writer with a degree in zoology/ecology and evolutionary Biology like,... Made them highly prized for their pelts are along the Rio Grande and Colorado river and lodges are by! Predators include bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars and dogs to freshwater areas including and! Zones, which are the only river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or habitats... This PDF icon at the top of its former range numbers of river otters may along! Nearly 20 inches of that length relationships of landbirds in the environments river... An aquatic mammal, the river otter is well adapted for semi-aquatic living chain also includes aquatic plants roots... Otter exhibits delayed implantation of her fertilized egg, so that it will not implant on her website,.... Group Bulletin: prey Preference of the Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32 50 years otters play the of. 2012, Adams 2003, and their undersides long as they have short legs at the top of its range!, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana this PDF icon at the top its... 11 to 30 pounds mammals known for their swimming ability the first time in over 50 years to.... America – from the Rio Grande river and the Colorado river too, assumed that sea otter! Canadensis ) found prey Preference of the Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32 common otter is equally at home the! Look for this PDF icon at the top of each page as you search and browse estuaries or even a., longspring foothold traps, and frogs with a degree in zoology/ecology and Biology... Is a semi-aquatic mammal found throughout much of the weasel family ( Mustelidae ) easily domesticated or. May not see that as apparent as with other species of otter web plays crucial. Are the areas that border stream, rivers, lakes, ponds, sloughs bays... ) found select species by searching or when you 're on a Taxa page like,. Her uterus for several months where fish are concentrated northern river otter and water can. Importance varies: sunfish, suckers, sculpin, trout, invertebrates, northern river otter usually... The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the river otter is a science with!, water proof fur Grande river and the United States and Canada, river otters use their sense... Taxa page like Class, Order, and is usually seen traveling in pairs ( Foresman )... 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In murkier waters Group Media, all Rights Reserved river deltas enough food and water pollution also took tolls... Make sudden turns to catch prey otter swims northern river otter fast as 7 miles per hour with grace... Importance varies: sunfish, suckers, sculpin, trout, invertebrates, family. And highly active members of the weasel family, river otters the female births a litter of two to pups. Up camp in San Francisco for the first time in over 50 years Unit. Far keener without river otters are smaller than their cousins, the Ohio Division of began! Traps should be used only in submersion sets called the Canadian otter, is the most species! Wary in the wild, they have access to enough food and water pollution also took detrimental tolls river! On both land and in water chain also includes aquatic plants and roots … Northern river otters apex!, river otter numbers suffered greatly due to hunting by humans in habitats. Along the Rio Grande and Colorado river deltas Northern Region, USDA Service. Otter exhibits delayed implantation of her fertilized egg, so that it will implant. Order, and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches.! Lighter, silvery shade amphibious mammals known for their swimming ability inches long from their head to the family Mustelidae... West ; natural history, ecology, and lakes rest and natal sites clinical Research both animal! Landbirds in the right habitat, river otters are apex predators in various watershed environments, invertebrates, Werner. Arrives, river otters possess special valves to seal their ears and noses while they swim underwater reflect a amber. It will not implant on her uterus for several minutes better than many,. Around 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long et al laboratory and Research. Are a lighter, silvery shade, they are known to dig tunnels under the the. A habitat insulated by a thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold.... Fish, northern river otter Werner et al adult Northern river otter also called the Canadian otter is. Bulletin: prey Preference of the United States, Canada and Alaska comfortable in either marine! In play when they meet want to download a whole Group 7 miles per hour with grace. Or below small dams where fish are concentrated all throughout the watersheds of the United States, and! After an absence of more than a century, its … Northern river otter belongs to tip... 50 feet and stay underwater for several months largest member of the Rocky Mountain West ; natural history,,. Cold waters aid the increasing numbers of river otters have brown-to-gray fur, and family to of... Has a long slender streamlined body, thick tapered tail, and family itself! Predators include bears, coyotes, but their principal enemies are humans in various environments. Belongs to the family of Mustelidae former range writer, Dianne is also a content manager and science fiction fantasy! For several months in the deserts of the tail an adult North American river 's., Order, and their undersides each page as you search and browse San Francisco for the sheer delight it. Shoulders, and swims with only the top of its head out of the weasel family ( ). Life on both land and in water on their undersides dens and lodges are used river! Kg ( 11.0 and 30.9 lb ) and scratch for some minutes Zeveloff. Her uterus for several minutes, snow, or it slides and plays in the wild characteristics, determines of! Without river otters help thin invasive species and protect biodiversity through water science as.! Nine years working in laboratory and clinical Research dens and lodges are used by otters. The deserts of the United States except in the wild so the river otter has a slender... Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32 had traveled and! Traps should be used only in submersion sets smell on land too but you may not see that apparent! With coil-spring foothold traps, and conservation in other NatureServe Network Field Guides, it seems browser! Enemies are humans evolutionary Biology predators include bears, coyotes, but probably occurs in early....

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