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River Otter

Scientific Name: Lontra Canadensis

Habitat: shores of fresh water bodies

Diet: fish, crayfish, frogs, birds, small mammals

Life Span: 8–9 years (up to 27 years in captivity)

Young: 2–4 young/litter (pups)

Size: 5–14 kg (11–30 lbs)

Otters are members of the weasel family, usually found in pairs or family groupings.

Their ears and nostrils seal shut when under water. A nictitating membrane (transparent third eyelid) protects the otter’s eyes while swimming. A thick layer of fat insulates them from the cold.

Natural predators include bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, and in the southern United States, alligators. Otters are hunted for their fur and are affected by water pollution.

River otters are well adapted to their water environment. Their webbed feet are used for propulsion while their tail steers them. These otters rely on their sensitive whiskers to find prey in murky water. Their high metabolism requires them to eat often. River otters are often wrongly blamed for depleting commercial fish stocks; their diet actually consists of non-game fish species such as suckers, chubs, shiners, catfish and perch.

Learn more about this species

These are some other websites that we think have more great information about this species.

North American river otter on Animal Diversity Web



Range: Canada and the United States except for southern regions

Status in the Wild

Status: threatened

For More Information

Edmonton Valley Zoo

13315 Buena Vista Road (87th Avenue)
PO Box 2359
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2R7


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