Information On Otters

The otter is a semiaquatic member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, including river and sea otters.

The otter is a semiaquatic member of the weasel family Mustelidae, which includes the sea otter, river otter, the African clawless otter, small clawed otter of Asia and the great otter of South America.

The plump little otter is covered with dazzling thick brown fur. They will gather a group of otters from all around the river and play games together much like humans do, slipping and sliding down riverbanks. The otters climb to the top of the bank and hold their four stubby legs close to their body.

They point their legs toward their tail, and giving a quick nudge, down the bank they go. Landing in the water, they get out dripping wet and climb to the top to start their game all over again. The otter can slide even faster when snow and ice are on the ground.



Otters that live near the river are called river otters and sea otters live near the sea. They may reach four feet in length, although the average is about three feet and the female is one-third smaller. The otter family consists of twelve species found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica.

They can hump their backs and hiss like a cat and their broad faces even have whiskers. Their fur is brown on top with a silvery sheen below. The ears are small with a snout broad face. Their wide webbed feet carry their long body with a tail tapering to a long point which can measure 19 inches.

The otter can swim faster than any other four-legged animal and can close its ears and nostrils to keep out the water. A big otter can stay under water as long as five minutes leaving a string of silver bubbles rising to the surface.

Their diet consists of fish (their favorite), birds, turtles, frogs, crayfish, muskrats and even rabbits when available. But, they can be interested in any small land animal.

The otters mate in summer and the female carries her babies from 9 1/2 to 12 1/2 months. Baby otters are born two or three at a time, and are called "pups." The babies can cry real tears and wail much like human infants. They are born blind and toothless for about six weeks.

The otter has few enemies but bears and foxes have been known to grab baby pups from their nest. But, man is considered the worst enemy because of their valuable fur. Although he is not as big a threat today as he once was during the age of the fur trappers.

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