Northern River Otter
Range/Geographical Distribution: Most of Alaska, Canada, and the northwest and eastern United States.
Habitat: Lakes, streams, rivers, swamps, and coastal areas.
Description: Large, semiaquatic mammal with short legs and a thick, tapering tail. The feet are webbed and the body is brown above and silvery below. Pale orange eyes.
Size: Body is 26-31” long and the tail is 12-20” long. Can weigh up to 24lbs.
Food: Fish, frogs, crayfish, and shellfish.
Breeding: Females give birth to two to four pups in early spring. Otters mate again soon after the young are born and implantation is delayed for eight to nine months.
Predators: Bobcats, coyotes, alligators, and birds of prey.
Conservation Status: Now missing from much of its original range due to hunting although current protection and reintroduction efforts are helping bring back the population. Threatened by water pollution and habitat loss.
Interesting Facts: River otters make slides on mud banks and ice slopes. They are also strong swimmers and swim with their head above the water and their body below. Their ears and nostrils can be closed to keep water out during diving.
On the Coast: River otters are found along most of Georgia’s waterways and may be seen swimming in rivers or hauled out onto docks. Piles of shells and crab claws, along with feces, are sure signs that an otter is nearby.