North American River Otter


CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Mustelidae
GENUS: Lontra
SPECIES: L. canadensis

habitat & Range

This species inhabits both terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and are typically found in streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, or marshes.

Did you know?

  • The river otter can hold its breath for
    up to eight minutes underwater.
  • River otters can emit a ‘scream’ that
    can be heard up to a mile and a half away.
  • The oldest river otter was recorded as
    living up to 27 years of age. On average
    they live to be 12 years of age.
North American River Otter

Form & Function

The river otter has a long and agile body with a muscular tail and large hind feet that propel them through the water. Their back is dark brown while their belly is white. They can be between 2.5 to 5 feet long, although females are typically smaller than males. This species is adapted for terrestrial and aquatic life. Their eyes and ears are high on the head for surface swimming. They also have a nictitating membrane that protects their eyes while underwater. River otters often socialize in groups, engaging in playful behavior and communicating with a variety of vocalizations.

Conservation & YOu

Least Concern (IUCN) Even with stable populations the North American River Otter still needs help keeping their populations safe. Some threats to river otters include habitat development and loss, hunting and trapping, habitat alterations and damming, disease from invasive species, and pollution. You can help protect the river otters by supporting companies that don’t pollute, picking litter, and pushing for more habitat protection in your state.
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