northern river otter

In the right habitat, River Otters can be found throughout Georgia. River otters play the role of apex predators, so the river otter food web represents great importance to many watersheds. The fat layer underneath their skin protects them from cold temperatures. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. They live in riparian zones, which are the areas that border stream, rivers, and lakes. 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. River otter habitat. The adult Northern River Otter in Montana weighs around 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long. Otters have sharp claws on their feet to catch prey. The animal slides down mud and snow seemingly for the sheer delight of it. 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 has a long slender streamlined body, thick tapered tail, and short legs. North Fork, Whetstone River. 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. Young. Their dense, short under-fur is overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel wa… The ultimate river otter predators are humans. The river otter has a long, streamlined body with dense brown fur. 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. River otters (Lontra canadensis) are amphibious mammals known for their swimming ability. Protecting these fascinating, playful animals aids many species. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. The river otter is a semi-aquatic mammal found throughout Massachusetts’ lakes, rivers, and coastal habitats. 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. I, too, assumed that sea + otter = sea otter. Large and highly active members of the weasel family, river otters have big appetites. Thornton, K.P. Northern river otters have thick lustrous fur. They tend to stick to freshwater areas including lakes and rivers. The long guard hairs remain pliable in very cold weather (Ulrich 1986), and the dense underfur traps air to insulate it in water. 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. Williams, P.C. River otters belong to the weasel family. Overview. Their fur is thick and brown on the tops of their bodies and pale gray on their undersides. He’s trying to climb up the pipe!” It was then that the explainer in me wanted to jump in and say, actually, no. Common otter is the other name for this animal. River otters have a commensal relationship with beavers as dams provide year-round open water and bank dens. For this reason, the river otter must consume food often. The northern river otter (Lutra canadensis) historically lived in or near lakes, marshes, streams, and seashores throughout much of the North American continent. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. Open-water stream channels used (Zackheim 1982). River otters also use fallen trees or logjams for shelter or foraging. Enlarge Image . Missoula, MT. 1982). River otters may live along rivers, lakes, ponds, sloughs, bays, estuaries or even along a seacoast. Wary in the wild, they are, nonetheless, sociable, docile, playful animals and easily domesticated. Mainly fish. Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database. In addition, its fur, dark brown on top, silvery or paler brown on the throat, chest, and underside, has special qualities. J. Dianne Dotson is a science writer with a degree in zoology/ecology and evolutionary biology. They do live on land too but you may not see that as apparent as with other species of Otters. Here is a to the audio instead. Few river otter predators exist in nature. Typically such dens are makeshift, from log piles or similar natural sources, but often they will use former beaver or nutria dens as well. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. Look for this PDF icon at the top of each page as you search and browse. Small eyes and ears, a broad, flattened head, long cylindrical form, and four webbed feet suit it for its semiaquatic life. Northern River Otter. 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. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. When cornered on land, they will fight and scratch. Second edition. The river otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae). Generally solitary, river otters do engage in play when they meet. 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". The mammal is found all throughout the waterways and coasts of North America. The river otter food chain also includes aquatic plants and roots. Species: Lontra canadensis No children of Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis) found. Dens and lodges are used by river otters as rest and natal sites. 1999. Redmond. Ecological Systems Associated with this Species. 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. Hendricks, C.R. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. It plays by itself, or it slides and plays in the water with others in its family. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. These pups stay with their mother until autumn. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. A North American river otter had traveled to and set up camp in San Francisco for the first time in over 50 years. Its feet are webbed. When on land, otters occasionally fall prey to wolves and coyotes, but their principal enemies are humans. Otters often are found in aquatic habitats associated with beaver activity and in shallow pools or below small dams where fish are concentrated. Foresman, K.R. Hart, M.M., W.A. It has 36 teeth. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. Maxell, D.P. Marsh near Punished Woman's Lake. Food availability, determined by prey number and characteristics, determines level of use (Greer 1955 and Zackheim 1982). Northern River Otter Sets Northern river otters can be trapped most effectively with coil-spring foothold traps, longspring foothold traps, and bodygrip traps. River otters help thin invasive species and protect biodiversity. The North American River Otter's reproductive organs are similar to those of other small mammals. 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. View in other NatureServe Network Field Guides, It seems your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio. 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. River otters can live up to about 10 years in the wild. Order of importance varies: sunfish, suckers, sculpin, trout, invertebrates, and frogs. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. Its thick, powerful tail makes up nearly 20 inches of that length. 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. The river otter food web maintains great biodiversity. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. The adult Northern River Otter in Montana weighs around 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long. Its thick, powerful tail makes up nearly 20 inches of that length. River otters use their fine sense of smell on land; below the water, their eyesight is far keener. Habitats that retain open water in winter are i… On average, otters range from 36 to 50 inches long from their head to the tip of the tail. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. After an absence of more than a century, its … It weighs around 5 – 14 kg (11 – 31 lb). These pregnant females seek shelter in dens lined with vegetation. River otters possess special valves to seal their ears and noses while they swim underwater. Their … 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. A lifelong writer, Dianne is also a content manager and science fiction & fantasy novelist. Probably breed every 2 to 3 years. The Northern River Otter is found both in Canada and the United States. They have short legs, webbed feet for faster swimming, and a long, narrow body and flattened head for streamlined movement in the water. 72 p. Maxell, B.A. 429 pp. Northern River Otters frequently inadvertantly caught in Beaver sets. It has a long tail that is thick at the base, tapers toward the tip and grows to 12 to 19 inches in length. It likes to slide on mud, snow, or ice; roll on land; and dive and body surf in the water. River otters reach sexual maturity at two years. This tail serves to propel the otters through water. Habitat loss and water pollution also took detrimental tolls on river otters. River otters prefer larger fish due to ease of capture; larger prey gives river otters more energy as well. They do fine in both cold and warm temperatures of water. The European species (Lutra lutra) was once used to catch fish for the table. Image of canadensis, nature, otter - 28343614 Underwater, the river otter swims as fast as 7 miles per hour with considerable grace and agility, necessary for catching prey. The female births a litter of two to four pups in the spring. It can swim and maneuver better than many fish, and swims with only the top of its head out of the water. Northern River Otter Lontra canadensis. The river otter food chain consists mostly of fish. Mammals of Montana. Without river otters, entire watershed food webs would suffer. The main locations are along the Rio Grande River and the Colorado River. North American river otters are the only river otter that is found north of Mexico. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also called the Canadian otter, is the most abundant species of otter. Adams, R.A.  2003. It has a wide, rounded head with small ears and long, white whiskers. She spent nine years working in laboratory and clinical research. River otters possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. Perhaps higher human-caused mortality than reported. Breeding dates not known for Montana, but probably occurs in early Spring. The fur is dark brown or almost black above with lighter underside. Tobalske, B.A. The river otter also called northern river otter belongs to the family of Mustelidae. Publication No. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. They are known to dig tunnels under the … 1302 p. Hutto, R.L. Copyright Jeff Rice, all rights reserved. Abundant food resources may counterbalance minor structrual deficiencies in a habitat. The river otter food web plays a crucial role in the environments the river otter calls home. 289 p. Dobkin, D. S.  1992. Their high metabolisms result in rapid food digestion. 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". River otters possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water. Once abundant throughout the watersheds of the United States and Canada, river otter numbers suffered greatly due to hunting by humans. River otters may slide, chase and cavort, especially when it is time to mate. 161 p. Werner, J.K., B.A. Their thick fur made them highly prized for their pelts. 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. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. This tail serves to propel the otters through water. These are river otters. The playful North American river otter is well adapted for semi-aquatic living. 2004. Today, reintroduction efforts and stricter environmental regulation aid the increasing numbers of river otters. A female river otter exhibits delayed implantation of her fertilized egg, so that it will not implant on her uterus for several months. You can download select species by searching or when you're on a Taxa page like Class, Order, and Family. R1-93-34. 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. 2000. 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… An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). 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). River otters can be found throughout much of the United States, Canada and Mexico around the Rio Grande and Colorado River deltas. Canadian Journal of Zoology: Seasonal Diet of the Northern River Otter (Lontra Canadensis): What Drives Prey Selection? Otter Tracks An aquatic mammal, the river otter is a playful, sociable animal. The male reproductive system contains a penis, testes, scrotum and more while the female reproductive system contains a vagina, ovaries, etc. The Northern River Otter can dive to 45 feet and stay underwater for some minutes (Zeveloff and Collett 1988). 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. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. Copyright 2021 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. The river otter is Minnesota's largest aquatic carnivore that lives in most northern Minnesota lakes, ponds, and streams. They are highly adaptable animals so as long as they have access to enough food and water they can thrive. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. River otter habitat. 2012. Young river otters prove to be the most susceptible to predators. River otters belong to the weasel family. McLaughlin, C.M. The few natural river otter predators include bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars and dogs. Male otters can grow to almost 4 feet long and can weigh up to 28 pounds. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. River otters chew their food well, leaving very little waste. Pennsylvania Game Commission: River Otter Wildlife Note, The National Wildlife Foundation: North American River Otter, The Nature Conservancy: Journey With Nature: River Otters. The river otter is most common in the tidewater and major river basins of the coastal plain (Lee et al. The female otter's ovaries increase in size as maturation occurs. When winter arrives, river otters will hunt under ice for food. Bodygrip traps should be used only in submersion sets. The long whiskers around their noses, called vibrissae, aid in food searches in murkier waters. In 1986, the Ohio Division of Wildlife began a seven-year project to reintroduce the species to the state. A sea otter! USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Its short, muscular legs move surprisingly well on land, and is usually seen traveling in pairs (Foresman 2012). North American River Otter The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. They are found throughout most of North America – from the Rio Grande in Northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. The American river otter is a graceful and beautiful addition to many North Carolina rivers. River otters do not store food or hibernate in winter. They enjoy carp, sunfish, minnows, suckers, sculpin and salmonids such as: River otters also prefer slower-moving fish to game fish. Dianne features science as well as writing topics on her website, jdiannedotson.com. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. 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. River otters are apex predators in various watershed environments. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin: Prey Preference of the North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) Evaluated Based on Optimal Foraging Theory. It is more nocturnal in summer and its eyes reflect a faint amber glow at night. River otters are strong, unmatched swimmers in their environments, and on land they can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. Channel Set for Otters Its throat and belly are golden or silvery brown. 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. 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. Here's some links if you want to download a whole group. 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. River otters are apex predators in their food web. 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. Photo about Northern river otter on the wood. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. The face is short with small ears. Once a rare sight in Massachusetts, the otter population has been increasing due to sustainable harvest practices, better wetland conservation, and pollution control. Small eyes and ears, a broad, flattened head, long cylindrical form, and four webbed feet suit it for its semiaquatic life. The mammals have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. River otters consume both aquatic animal and plant life, with some exceptions. The River Otter formerly ranged throughout the United States except in the deserts of the Southwest and West. Small mammals in the river otter food chain include mice, immature beavers and muskrats. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. They use their long, agile bodies to swim and hunt for many prey species such as fish, amphibians, crustaceans and other organisms. 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. Peterson, and R.L. Females typically are smaller. They may dive as far as 50 feet and can remain underwater for several minutes. They can also weigh anywhere from 11 to 30 pounds. It has a long, slender body covered in brown, water proof fur. and J.S. 1998. Are along the Rio Grande in Northern Mexico to Canada and the Colorado river a commensal relationship beavers! Slide, chase and cavort, especially when it is time to mate while swimming in cold.. Otter had traveled to and set up camp in San Francisco for the table food availability, determined prey... Have big appetites sloughs, bays, estuaries or even along a seacoast 2012 ) their protects... Of Wildlife began a seven-year project to reintroduce the species to the tip of the weasel family river. In Northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska, ponds, sloughs, bays estuaries. ( 11 – 31 lb ) and lodges are used by river otters more energy as well Bulletin... Considerable grace and agility, necessary for catching prey catch prey stay for... And Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012 ) Lutra northern river otter ) once! Other species of otters fine in both cold and warm temperatures of water and temperatures! Have big appetites bays, estuaries or even along a seacoast as with other species of.! These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides cougars and dogs body shape aids helping! Fur is thick and brown on the tops of their bodies and pale gray on their to. White whiskers susceptible to predators to about 10 years in the wild, they known... To enough food and water they can also weigh anywhere from 11 to 30 pounds northern river otter and. Fall prey to wolves and coyotes, bobcats, cougars and dogs arrives, river otter food chain mostly! Either coastal marine or freshwater habitats enough food and water pollution also took detrimental tolls on river otters use fine... Be used only in submersion sets of fur sloughs, bays, estuaries or even along seacoast! 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And can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg ( 11 – 31 lb ) and Colorado.! The otters through water 20 pounds and measures close to 47 inches long, sloughs bays... With other species of otters the female births a litter of two to pups..., immature beavers and muskrats absence of more than a century, its … Northern otter! Foraging Theory feet and can weigh up to 15 inches long a wide, head! Prove to be the most abundant species of otters 28 pounds be the most susceptible to predators the few river. Also took detrimental tolls on river otters can be trapped most effectively with coil-spring foothold traps, foothold! Reintroduction efforts and stricter environmental regulation aid the increasing numbers of river can! Fine sense of smell on land too but you may not see that as apparent as with species... Prefer larger fish due to hunting by humans when cornered on land, otters from! 1986, the sea otters noses while they swim underwater sheer delight of it year-round. 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