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Florida Boardwalk Animal Fact Sheet
NORTH AMERICAN RIVER OTTER
Lutra canadensis

Range:
Throughout Florida and most of North America

Otters are amphibious members of the weasel family. The river otter is an excellent swimmer that usually moves slowly at the surface, dog paddling with all four webbed limbs. When swimming fast, the feet, tail and hind end are used together in an up and down motion. The tail provides most of the thrust and the forelimbs are tucked to the chest except when steering. The otter can stay submerged for six to eight minutes and catches fish while swimming. Because of its high metabolic rate, the otter feeds several times each day.

Dens are located near streams, rivers and other water sources. The den is usually self dug beneath shoreline shrubbery with an entrance about almost two feet beneath the water's surface. An air passage leads out above water level. Scent marking is done to delineate territorial boundaries and communicate sexual state.

During the breeding season each male attempts to mate with as many females as possible. Sometimes, a male and female may pair for several months. The young are born in an underground den near the water and cared for by the female. Her milk is six times richer than cow's milk. The young are nursed regularly for four months and may not be totally weaned for up to 14 months. Their eyes open at 28 to 35 days. They begin to swim at three months and are catching fish at four months. Adult size is attained at age two and sexual maturity occurs at age two to three.


Habitat: Near rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and marshes
Diet: Frogs, crabs, crayfish, fish, other shellfish, occasionally amphibians and birds
Status: Least Concern (IUCN)
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Length: 43-47 inches
Weight: Males: 16-20 lbs.; Females: 13-17 lbs.
Tail: 12 to 19 inches
Lifespan: 10-12 years in wild, up to 21 years in captivity
Reproduction & Offspring:

Gestation: 60-70 days.
Offspring: One to five young are born once or twice a year.


 

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