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Thread: Otters

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    Admin denise's Avatar
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    Otters

    Out of the 13 otter species worldwide, the North American River Otter, Lutra canadensis, the only otter species found in Florida. The cute, cuddly, but extremely shy river otter can grow to 35 pounds and more than 4 feet long. River otters are powerful and graceful swimmers, with various adaptations: Their ears and eyes close underwater to seal out the water, they have webbed feet, a strong muscular tail for powerful swimming, and they can hold their breath for up to eight minutes under water.

    River otters live in a variety of habitats. They live in dens close to waterways, usually lakes, ponds, springs, rivers, marshes or streams. They have a voracious appetite and need a large amount of territory that they use to capture food. Throughout any given year otters can occupy more than 50 miles of a stream! Otters are extremely active, and they regularly move from one area to another.


    River otters rely on fish as their primary food type, supplemented by frogs, crayfish, crabs, shellfish, insects, small mammals and birds. River otters have very few natural enemies, especially in the water. On land, young otters are vulnerable to foxes, wolves and raptors. Most otter deaths are related to humans. Otters are trapped (deliberately and accidentally), mainly for their fur. In the last few years more than 50,000 otters have been killed in North America. Originally river otters were found from Alaska right down to Florida. Through hunting, land development, deforestation and pollution, eleven states had their otter populations completely decimated. The few states left with river otters left have scarce numbers.


    Otter at Peacock Springs
    Photo courtesy of Janet Stape
    Last edited by denise; 11-05-2011 at 07:36 PM.
    Denise Byrne
    Marine Biologist/OW, Tech and Cave Instructor
    denise@dayo.com
    Orlando, Florida

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