North American river otter

The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal native to North America, known for its playful behavior and streamlined physique. Here’s a description of the North American river otter and its distribution:

Description of the North American River Otter:

  • Appearance: North American river otters have sleek, streamlined bodies adapted for swimming. They have long, muscular tails, webbed feet, and dense fur that provides insulation against cold water. Their fur is dark brown on the back and lighter on the belly. River otters have small, rounded ears and sensitive whiskers that help them detect prey underwater.
  • Size: Adult North American river otters typically measure around 66 to 107 centimeters (26 to 42 inches) in length, excluding the tail, which can add an additional 30 to 50 centimeters (12 to 20 inches). They weigh between 5 to 14 kilograms (11 to 31 pounds), with males being larger than females.
  • Behavior: North American river otters are highly social animals that are often seen in family groups known as rafts. They are playful creatures and engage in various activities such as sliding down muddy embankments, chasing each other, and playing with objects found in their environment. River otters are primarily crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk.
  • Habitat: North American river otters inhabit a variety of aquatic habitats, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, marshes, and coastal areas. They require clean, unpolluted water with abundant fish and other aquatic prey. River otters are excellent swimmers and are well-adapted to life in aquatic environments.
  • Diet: North American river otters are carnivorous and primarily feed on fish, crustaceans, amphibians, mollusks, and aquatic insects. They are opportunistic hunters and will also consume small mammals, birds, and carrion when available. River otters are skilled hunters underwater and use their keen senses to locate prey.
  • Reproduction: Breeding in North American river otters typically occurs in late winter or early spring, with females giving birth to a litter of one to six pups after a gestation period of around 60 to 86 days. The pups are born blind and helpless and are cared for by their mother until they are old enough to hunt on their own.
  • Conservation Status: The North American river otter is currently classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, they face threats such as habitat loss, pollution, habitat fragmentation, and incidental trapping.


  • North American river otters are found throughout much of North America, from Alaska and Canada in the north to Mexico in the south.
  • They inhabit a wide range of aquatic habitats across their range, including freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and coastal estuaries.
  • In the United States, North American river otters are found in various states, including Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
  • They are also found in southern Canada and northern Mexico.

North American river otters are charismatic and adaptable animals that play a vital role in maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems. Efforts to conserve their habitat and mitigate threats are essential for ensuring the long-term survival of this species.

North American river otter in Zoos

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