Also known as the North American River Otter, lutra canadensis is found in Canada and the US, including Alaska. They are 1000 to 1530mm long. They move very quickly in the water with their webbed feet and thick tail. They are mostly brown with a silvery front, throat and cheeks. They eat fish, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and insects.

  • TAXONOMIC DESCRIPTION:
    Long, sleek, with short legs, a thick tapering tail, whiskers on nose, and webbed feet. Somewhat similar in appearance to weasel or mink. Resident of mainly riparian wetlands, extremely well adapted for agility in water. Sometimes observed in play, however this is much less common in wild otters than in captives. River otters spend most of their time in water, but den in burrows or cavities on land. These animals are rarely seen in the wild as they are very elusive, however evidence of them is often seen in 'spraints' ([droppings[) placed in prominent places as markers of territory, sometimes deposited on pilings of rock, sand, or grass. These can be analyzed to determine the otter's diet. Also sometimes found are the otter's tracks and slides around riverbanks.
    Otters are important predators in riparian ecosystems as they consume a wide range of wetland animals and have few natural predators. The Eurasian Otter], Lutra lutra, inhabits Europe and Asia, and is very similar to the North American variety

  • HABITAT:
    River Otters, true to their name, generally live in creek or river areas or small ponds, in a den near the water, and spend most of their time in the water. They are also occasionally found along coastlines, although they are not to be confused with the sea otter, Enhydra lutris, which only lives along the Pacific coast and virtually never leaves the ocean.

  • DISTRIBUTION:
    Riverine habitats throughout mainly the northern portion of North America. Under some classification schemes, river otters in Central and South America are also included in this species.

  • REPRODUCTION:
    Male otters find females in estrus by scent. Courtship consists of much chasing and playing. Mating is quite intense and copulation may last up to a half-hour. The pair may mate several times while together. American river otters may have an extremely long gestation period of up to a year due to the fact that the fertillized egg may wait several months before implanting in the uterus. An average of two to three young are usually borne in the spring and cared for by the mother for three or four months

  • FEEDING HABITS:
    Carnivorous, preferring fish such as salmon, trout, and eels but also feeding on invertebrates, amphibians, birds, and even small mammals such as muskrats or rabbits.

  • USES:
    Once extensively trapped for fur and also hunted for sport (mainly European variety), otters now are valued more for their natural eloquence and charismatic mannerisms than for their fur coats.
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