The North American River Otter is a lively, inquisitive creature. North American River Otters are fresh water animals found throughout North America in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Otters are inquisitive, playful and intelligent, often appearing to take childlike enjoyment in sliding around on muddy banks or in snow. They are semi-aquatic mammals and live around water edges.
The River Otter is in the family Mustilidae, which also includes ferrets, skunks, weasels and sea otters. Fish is a favored food, but they also consume various amphibians, such as frogs and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported as well.
North American river otters are not endangered, although their range has been reduced significantly by habitat loss and environmental pollution, to which they are highly susceptible. Reintroduction projects are helping to stabilize the reduction in the overall population. Today, river otters are seen more frequently in residential neighborhoods and other populated areas.
The peak mating session is in March and April. During this time, river otters will travel more often and are more territorial. The total gestation period for a female otter is from 9.5 to 10 months which includes a period in which the embryo remains undeveloped. This holding period is called delayed implantation and it assures that the pup is born during the best time of the year for survival and allows the female to get into good physical condition.
A female river otter may bear a litter each year. The average litter of river otters is two to four pups. Female otters will nurse their young for three to four months before they are weaned onto solid food.
Our resident otters: