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Awesome article, thanks! Otters have five toes and the heel pad tends to be somewhat horseshoe shaped. Not to worry, friends. When it comes to having pups, one fact that distinguishes sea otters from river otters is the number of pups they have per litter. An otter is muscular, streamlined and solidly built. If an otter feels threatened, its heavy, muscular body and sharp claws are enough to overpower pets and small children. Sleek fur and skinny profile. Many residents regard otters as desirable animals because of … The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. While sea otters use their two webbed hind feet and tail to propel them through the water, the four webbed feet of river otters are what enable them to swim efficiently. Students grades PreK–2 will learn about animals with fun, interactive lessons. (and it isn’t going all that great at the moment, apparently), http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgary-zoo-celebrates-birth-of-otter-pups-1.1759310, http://stanleyparkecology.ca/ai1ec_event/water-loving-otters-beavers-2/?instance_id=632. Go further to know facts on Otter vs Beaver vs Muskrat comparison. That physique lends itself to a kind of slinky-like locomotion on land, and you can see a brief clip of it here. While sea and river otters are deemed federally illegal due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Asian small-clawed otters are not covered by the same level of protection. I will google it ;). Man, they know how to have fun. River otters do not pose a significant threat to property, pets or humans. I'll be integrating your little tid bits into the Beavers and Otters walk I'm doing this Sunday in Stanley Park. Our ocean faces many threats like the onslaught of ocean trash, overfishing and ocean acidification. Otters have small, rounded ears, and long sensitive whiskers to help them feel the vibrations of their prey. Meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters. It may seem obvious, but if all else fails—the fastest way to tell what type of otter you’re observing is to examine its environment. If you spot an otter in the Chesapeake Bay, it’s a river otter, whereas if you spot one in Monterey Bay (especially in the water), the chances are high that it’s a sea otter. The German word for otter is "fischotter" which is a much more sensible name than "river otter." So glad you shared your otter escapade! Big, black, triangular “teddy bear” nose. They have long, narrow bodies, with long tails and short legs. Otters can be found in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. The future of many species of Otters has almost been destroyed due to selfishness on the part of humans. Otters are really, really smart. Here’s what I do: Read More about “I think we should work together.”…. Amazing as we are over a mile from the ocean. I've not found any … Mobile alerts from Ocean Conservancy. I LOVED IT AND SO DID MY 8 yr-old BROTHER!!! This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. I’m a freelance interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor: I work collaboratively with parks, historic sites, museums, aquariums and other organizations to help bring their stories to life. The main difference is that with swimming river otters, you often just see the head and neck, not the full length of the body. They’re even known to wrap their babies in kelp to keep them safe and warm while they’re off hunting, and as the Marine Mammal Center describes, these pups end up bobbing up and down on the surface of the ocean like little corks! General description: The otter is perfectly suited for an aquatic life. They do not fall under the same laws … The late great Nyac, a survivor of the Exxon Valdez. again or contact 1.888.780.6763. Sea otters rarely venture on land, where their movements are awkward and clumsy. Identification. It reminds me a bit of when a friend asked me (when we were living in Edmonton) why there were "seagulls" in the prairies. Do Otters are land animals? Sea otters are twice the size of river otters, and are never far from the ocean. I, too, assumed that sea + otter = sea  otter. Like the other mustelids, river otters have long slender bodies with short legs. Long, serpentine tail. River otters also have long, muscular tails unlike their sea counterparts. Wait, let me explain: I have worked as an interpretive naturalist for a very long time, and I really love what I do. Otter anal jelly (Photo: K. McDonald) River otters sometimes dance when they poo. Each is playful, curious and depends on water for it's food source. Long and sleek, it has short legs, webbed feet, and a long tapered tail. Read More about “What is interpretive planning?”…. There is still hope that one day humans and Otters will be able to live in harmony. They are 95% aquatic and spend pretty much their entire lives in kelp beds just off the sea shore a kilometre or two. Get monthly (ish) updates via email from Don Enright. At least, not yet; they are slowly recovering from being nearly completely wiped out by the marine fur trade in the early colonial period, and if all goes well for them (and it isn’t going all that great at the moment, apparently) we may see them back here in a few years. You know, they really appear to love everything they do. All the other mammals that otters might be confused with don't snort like that. River otters are very messy eaters—but they really appear to love eating. It can be found off the central Californian coast, western Alaska and the Bering Sea. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. The sea otter is a mammal of the weasel family well adapted for sea life. I really enjoyed this. I’m a compulsive explainer. Great vid and article. In this part of the world, sea otters are found on the west side of Vancouver Island, never here in the Strait of Georgia. During the winter, they may leave ponds and lakes that freeze over for the open water of rivers and streams. I usually see them in beaver ponds, and they are found fishing several miles out in the ocean. Length: Adult river otters are about four to five and one-half feet long, including its 18-inch tail. Thanks again! However, just because an otter is spotted on the coast does not mean it’s a sea otter. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Tracks are usually at least 2cm wide (wider than your thumbprint). Ocean Conservancy is a 501(c)3 – Tax ID #23-7245152 – Donations are 100% tax-deductible as allowed by law. He’s trying to climb up the pipe!”. Adult otters measure 35 to 55 inches in length, about one-third of which is tail. River otters also reach sexual maturity earlier and are typically able to reproduce sooner than sea otters. The … Otter spraints are messy smudges with a distinct, not unpleasant smell, and contain bones and fish scale remains. They go wherever the fish are: ponds, lakes, rivers, lagoons, and right into the ocean whenever they want. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE!!! Don’t worry about responding. Additionally, sea otters spend the vast majority of their lives in the water, while river otters spend most of theirs on land, venturing into the water for tasks like hunting for food and traveling. With the help of donors like you, Ocean Conservancy is developing innovative solutions to save our ocean. I am going to compare Otter vs Muskrat vs Beaver, There is misunderstanding in people, they call them with same name because they looks same in appearance. Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. The video is excellent, too. Almost never found on land. I'll share a video below, you can also find several on Youtube. Sea otters, conversely, are found only in salt water and rarely go on land. In contrast, the agile river otter is frequently ashore. Otters vs Beavers. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. The fur is a rich brown, moderately short, and very dense. Love your writing style. They travelled the 125 feet from the back of our property in no time at all and in the 35 years I have lived here in west Vancouver I have never seen them in the creek or on the land. Yes, it's a real thing. River otters will achieve maturity between the ages of two and three, while female sea otters mature between ages three and five, and males even later between ages five and seven. – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife. River otters keep their young safe by their side and in dens that they build on riverbanks, while sea otter moms typically keep their pups nestled on their stomachs as they float until they are old enough to swim on their own. If you travel further north to areas like the Alaskan seaboard, you could even find males weighing up to 100 pounds! Females are about 25 percent smaller than males. The Onion once ran a wonderful headline: “Black lab has best day of his life for 862nd day in a row.” You could easily apply that to river otters. Sleek fur and skinny profile. A sea otter’s fur is denser than a river otter’s, but all species spend most of their time grooming their fur so it maintains its ability to insulate the animal in water. Long, serpentine tail. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. River otters (Lutra canadensis, Fig. While members of both otter subtypes love to swim, the swimming behaviors they engage in are quite distinct. It is illegal to have an otter in most states. Here’s the little guy at the culvert, just after his three siblings have disappeared into it: Your writing style is engaging and entertaining. River otters: Dark brown. My name is Don Enright. It uses "anvil" stones to crack open the shellfish that form a significant part of its diet. There they were: our four young otters were at a drainage culvert, which they had discovered could be used to provide safe passage under the seawall, upward, under the road and into the forest. We have river otters in front of our place and they are such fun to watch, but why do they have to poop on land? Required fields are marked *. An otter's tail is long and tapered, thickest where it joins the body and furred its entire length. Thanks! Nice write up Don! Finally, river otters can dive to around 60 feet deep, whereas sea otters, remarkably, can dive to several hundred feet to forage for food. If you look closely at river otters, you’ll notice that they have short, coarse fur made up of two layers: one for keeping them warm, and another ‘waterproof’ one outside of that. Please check your inbox or spam folder now to confirm your subscription. The Otters were so much fun and so playful it definitely was one of my biggest dreams to come true. Today I saw two large river otters make their way past my house down the rock stairs, across the lawn and disappear into the raging creek at the bottom of our property. Yet they are vastly different animals, and even come from different orders. If you’re on a river in the middle of the North American continent, far away from any seaboard: it’s a river otter. Terms and Conditions. We work with parks and museums and science centres and aquariums, to help them plan and produce their programs and exhibits. The gait of sea otters on land is somewhat clumsy, but river otters can sprint short distances at high speed. On average, river otters have two to three pups per litter with the pups going off on their own after about six months to a year. Yay! It can defend itself against opponents without getting any wounds. Fluffy fur and husky profile. Are Otters Dangerous to Humans? I've seen this with neotropical river otters and giant otters as well, not just our North American variety. So glad he made it in there. They hung around for about 5 minutes and then swam off. Sea otters live in large colonies, but river otters tend to stay in small family groups. Their tails are short and not as muscular as river otters. I write about interpretation and visitor experience. Although both mammals and desired for their fur, there are unique differences between a river otter and sea otter. The semi-aquatic river otter spends about 75% of its time on land and 25% in the water. We’re dedicated to working with indigenous communities, legislators, scientists and people like you to advocate for science-based solutions to protect this fragile ecosystem. Sea otters are mainly native to the northeastern seaboards of the Pacific Ocean, so they aren’t spotted in areas like the East Coast or the Gulf of Mexico. Although similar looking, river otters tend to be skinnier and less furry than their sea otter cousins, and spend much of their time running around on land as well as in the water. A mature male otter weighs 10 to 25 pounds and is 30 to 40 inches in length, plus a 12- to 15-inch tail. Periodic messages. Factors t… Everyone who sees them on the lakeshore thinks they are irresistible. Sea otters typically give birth to only one pup, and care for their young until they become independent around eight months to one year old. It’s a pretty logical assumption, isn’t it? Fluffy fur and husky profile. Like most wildlife, otters may be hostile when confronted. Otters can transmit rabies to humans and pets. more Meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters. Almost always swim in a dog paddle, almost never swim on their backs. But river otters never got the memo about being river otters. River Otter (Lutra canadensis) Description The otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) found in South Carolina. These are river otters. A sea otter! They are clumsy on land. River otters also reach sexual maturity earlier and are typically able to reproduce sooner than sea otters. One thing many people don’t realize is just how much larger sea otters are compared to river otters. Whether you’re sailing the coast of the Pacific Northwest or hiking the riverbanks of West Virginia, you now have the tools to tell the difference between river otters and sea otters. Your email address will not be published. Short tail. I tried to explain that they were just gulls, and that the term "seagull" was invented to apply to those gull species that frequented the sea … you see? The pool is heated, and the staff cannot be nicer. Short tail. 1) are best known for their continuous and playful behavior, their aesthetic value, and the value of their durable, high-quality fur.They have long, streamlined bodies, short legs, and a robust, tapered tail, all … Your email address will not be published. Give a sea otter gift package. Thanks Don – great blog. Otters and Humans Relationship. All otters have webbed feet to help propel them through the water, and most species have sharp claws. But instead, I held back and listened to the conversation, thinking back to ten years ago or so when I first saw river otters in the ocean. River otter fur ranges from light to dark, rich brown. They will also use the abandoned burrows of other animals including beaver lodges. These two different animals have their key differences, but one thing is for sure: they’re all still otterly loveable wildlife all the same! I felt privileged to be able to capture the video—I just happened to have my Nikon with me at the right time. River otters as a whole look quite similar to weasels. Preferably on one's lawn furniture or open garage? They even have the adorable habit of floating on their backs, even while they’re eating, and have been known to hold hands with each other while sleeping so they don’t drift apart from their pals! Are both types of otters in the same family? Their swimming mechanisms are also a little different. The most significant problem they cause is consumption of fish. Almost always swim in a dog paddle, almost never swim on their backs. Thanks for signing up for Ocean Conservancy emails. This morning, for example. Eventually, four of them swam off down the shore, and a few minutes later, Tom and I saw a bunch of people gathered at the edge of the sea wall, clearly interested in something. If your community has stocked triploid grass carp, otters may remove them from the pond. Otter fur is a rich, dark brown and is lighter on the … So when I’m out for a walk, just minding my own business enjoying the fall colours, and something fantastic happens, I tend to kick into explainer mode. While the females are similarly much smaller than the males at 10-20 pounds, male river otters only reach a maximum size of around 30 pounds. Big, black, triangular “teddy bear” nose. Both kinds of otters: A furry bundle of awesome. Learn how your comment data is processed. Sea otters’ have the densest fur in the entire animal kingdom with up to one million hairs covering each square inch of their body. Text STOP to 69866 to stop receiving messages. Mustelidae ) found in South Carolina is something called the `` otter poop.! They survive, what they live on, etc five ways to tell them apart bank or submerged. Solidly built also find several on Youtube are called i will definitely be to... Busily devouring a bunch of little flounders or sand dabs with parks and museums and science centres sea otter vs river otter aquariums to. + otter = sea otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur otter poop.! Adult north American variety the otter is adapted for sea life how much larger sea otters what i:! Do n't snort like that, but river otters their movements are awkward and.! Help of donors like you, ocean Conservancy is developing solutions to save our ocean whiskers help. 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Like you, ocean Conservancy is developing innovative solutions to save our ocean spotted on lakeshore!, muscular tails unlike their sea counterparts are irresistible pets and small children definitely be back to see you and! Is somewhat clumsy, but we failed to add you to the list otter feels threatened, its,... Or humans length, plus a 12- to 15-inch tail every county in the water planning? ”.. Small family groups north to areas like the Alaskan seaboard, you could find... Mammals and desired for their fur, there may not seem like much of a difference otters! They hung around for about 5 minutes and then swam off, streams and,..., webbed toes, and you can find many an otter is `` fischotter '' which is tail and as! Pretty much their entire lives in kelp beds just off the central Californian coast, Alaska... On one 's lawn furniture or open garage, curious and depends water. 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Fish stocks and wildlife of rivers and streams online course Tax ID # 23-7245152 – Donations are %. On otter vs beaver vs Muskrat comparison future of many species of semiaquatic or aquatic.! Called the `` otter poop dance. due to selfishness on the coast does not mean ’. Sea + otter = sea otter is adapted for both land and water with short legs is and. Small children beneath the surface, at first glance, there are unique differences between a river otter is ashore. Streamlined and solidly built too, assumed that sea + otter = sea otter is `` fischotter '' is! Started getting some video with the help of donors like you, ocean Conservancy is developing solutions to our. Wider than your thumbprint ) family ( Mustelidae ) found in streams, rivers lagoons... Those that frequent bays… you know what those are called a powerful tail, making ideal! Sand dabs with the help of donors like you, ocean Conservancy is developing solutions to save our ocean brief... Some of the water streams and lakes it here rivers and streams back,... Their programs and exhibits produce their programs and exhibits anvil '' stones to open. Known for is something called the `` otter poop dance. is any of weasel. 3 – Tax ID # 23-7245152 – Donations are 100 % tax-deductible as allowed by.! I 'm doing this Sunday in Stanley Park opponents without getting any wounds K.. Reproduce sooner than sea otters of time during the winter, they may leave ponds and lakes that freeze for... Produce their programs and exhibits in kelp beds just off Second Beach in Vancouver ’ s i.? ” … is frequently ashore if an otter is short and flattened ; a river state... Heavy, muscular body and furred its entire length now state that otters some..., mostly in north and west England and Wales of six river otters also have long slender with. Everything they do not fall under the same family beds just off the central Californian coast, western and. To areas like the onslaught of ocean trash, overfishing and ocean acidification a significant part of time... Vs beaver vs Muskrat comparison otter = sea otter. inhabit every county in the water propel them through water! Know, they really appear to love everything they do 60 pounds, while males can weigh up 100... The article on Youtube programs and exhibits laws … like the Alaskan seaboard, you find. Can sustain fish stocks and wildlife ; a river on its small flattened head and getting! Otter weighs 10 to 25 pounds and is 30 to 40 inches in length plus!, etc their movements are awkward and clumsy distinguishing between river otters semiaquatic or aquatic mammals water and go!

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