North American River Otter
Latin Name: Lutra canadensis
This North American River Otter was photographed at a local Florida Cypress Slough.
The North American River Otter (Lutra canadensis), also known as the Northern River Otter or the Common Otter, is a semi-aquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent, found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult river otter can weigh between 11 and 30 pounds. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur.
River Otters can be thought of - and in a very real sense are - semi-aquatic weasels. Like fishers, martens, and mink, they have long, slender bodies, short limbs, and a short face, plus a set of adaptations for their aquatic lifestyle: an oily, waterproof coat, webbed toes, and small external ears. River Otters are good swimmers and divers, able to stay underwater for up to eight minutes.
They feed on crayfish, crabs, fish, birds, small mammals, and some aquatic plants. They once lived in streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, and coastal areas throughout Canada and the United States. Now they are gone from the central and eastern United States, and extinct or rare in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Scientific studies have shown them to be sensitive to pollution. Still these animals are commercially harvested: 20,000 - 30,000 are taken annually for their lustrous fur.