North American River Otter

The North American River Otter is a semi-aquatic mammal that is highly adapted to hunt prey in water. In addition to their clawed, webbed feet and propeller-like tail, River Otters have the ability to shut their ears and nostrils to prevent water from entering. Where you see beaver lodges or muskrat dens, check for River Otters. They tend to move into their abandoned homes.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Lontra canadensis
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
8-9 Years
SIZE
30-48 ” | 11-30 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Furbearer
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The North American River Otter lives in slow moving water with abundant riparian plants and fish. They have been found to use the dens of other animals rather than creating their own.

  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh
  • Rivers and streams

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation

Natural History

River Otters are aquatic mammals that are highly adapted to hunt prey in the water. They have great eyesight both above and below water, and whiskers that can detect underwater prey. They like to eat fish, frogs, crawfish, and insects, and sometimes will also consume birds and small mammals. River Otters tend to move into abandoned beaver lodges or muskrat dens rather than building or constructing their own. River Otters give birth around late winter into early spring and can have up to 6 pups at a time. Pups will hang around their mother until they are about ten months old. In mother-offspring groups, Otters will use scent, body language, touch, and sound to communicate with one another.

Fun Facts

When startled, River Otters can emit a scream so loud it can be heard from almost a mile away! Female Otters have delayed implantation of the embryo, allowing them to mate whenever they chance upon a male, and can become pregnant at a later date.