North American River Otter – Lontra canadensis
River otters are semi-aquatic mammals commonly thrive in rivers, lakes, coastal bogs, swamps, wetlands, or estuary ecosystems in the USA and Canada. Aided by their webbed feet, streamlined body, muscular tail, and thick waterproof fur to keep them warm, river otters make excellent swimmers. They have extremely dense hair, containing almost 160,000 hairs per square inch. These nocturnal creatures can even remain underwater for up to 8 minutes, thanks to their ability to seal their nostrils and ears in the water. River otters feed on a variety of animals, including fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and any aquatic invertebrates.
Although frolicsome by reputation and indulging in playtime activities including sliding, somersaulting, wrestling, and flopping around, river otters are generally solitary animals except for females with their young. River otters do not reach sexual maturity until they are two or three years old. Their mating season is in late winter or early spring.
Highly skilled swimmers, river otters are not easy to prey to aquatic predators. When they are out of the water, however, their common threats include coyotes, wolves, bald eagles, and bobcats. River otters’ population has also been greatly reduced by habitat loss as they are very sensitive to environmental pollution.
Community members have spotted an otter in Shadow Lake. It may be enjoying the food and shelter of our habitat! Let us know if you or a friend has seen it or has any more information.
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Guest Writer and SHADOW Volunteer Adintya Starling