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  • An aquatic mammal, the river otter is a playful, sociable animal. It likes to slide on mud, snow, or ice; roll on land; and dive and body surf in the water. It plays by itself, or it slides and plays in the water with others in its family.
  • The river otter's brown fur looks black when it's wet. It has a long body with a thick tail that tapers at the end; long, wide head; small eyes; small ears; white whiskers; and webbed feet.
  • Found primarily in wooded areas along rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds, the otter is a fast swimmer both on top of the water and underwater. It can stay underwater for several minutes and lifts its head high out of the water to check its surroundings. After the otter catches a fish, it usually stays in the water and rolls on its back to eat. If the fish is large, the otter takes the fish out of the water and eats it on land.
  • The otter makes its den in a hollow log, a log jam, a pile of sticks or rocks, or a den that has been abandoned by another animal such as a beaver or nutria. The nest inside the den is made of sticks, grass, reeds, and leaves.
  • Born blind and with dark brown fur, young otters are weaned when they are four months old. The male leaves when the babies are born but returns to help raise the young after they are half-grown. The young leave home in the fall or winter before another litter is born.
Otter range map
Northern River Otter Range
Otter tracks
Northern River Otter Tracks

Northern River Otter Facts

  • Mating: polygamous.
  • Breeding period: early spring.
  • Gestation period: 9 to 12 months.
  • Birth period: March or April.
  • Litters per year: 1.
  • Number of young: 1 to 6 per litter; average 2 to 4.
  • Age females can breed: 1 year.
  • Adult weight: 10 to 30 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: less than 10 years.
  • Feeding time: day and night.
  • Movement: 15 miles or more from home.
  • Typical foods: primarily fish but also eats frogs, aquatic invertebrates, and small mammals.