North American River Otter
|Name: North American River Otter|
|Scientific name: Lutra canadensis|
|Range: Canada and the United States, except for the tundra and arid southwestern U.S., to Nova Scotia|
|Habitat: Lakes, streams, and coastal marshes|
|Status: Population is low, almost extinct|
|Diet in the wild: Fish (carp, suckers, catfish, and sculpins), crayfish, frogs, turtles, aquatic invertebrates|
|Diet in the zoo: Fish or horse meat with vegetables. Females are given fish three times a week and vitamin E twice a week.|
|Location in the zoo: Texas Wild Exhibit|
The river otter tends to travel in pairs and
hang out in groups. They are very playful animals. They enjoy
mud/snow sliding and burrowing through the snow. By "playing around"
they build up strength while still having fun. To keep in touch during
all this playing they whistle, growl, chuckle, and scream. The reproductive
patterns of these animals tend to occur in the spring. At this time
the female mates, but the fertilized eggs do not begin to develop until
the fall, this is called delayed implantation. There is something
within their body that allows this to occur. The babies are born
10-12 months after the implantation. After the birth of the young
the male leaves and does not return until he is needed to care for them.
The babies are born blind, so they require much attention from their mother
for the first two months. Within a year they leave their home to
begin a home of their own. River otters live to be about 15 years
old in their natural habitat and about 20 years old in captivity.
or behavioral adaptations:
River otters are able to withstand the cold
waters and weather because of their coarse fur hair. This hair helps
"water-proof" them and keep them warm. While swimming in the water
they can close their ears and nostrils tightly, this helps keep out the
water. While diving their pulse slows down to a tenth of its normal
rate to conserve oxygen that will be needed to stay under water.
Otters can go without air for up to eight minutes! They use a pair
of scent glands towards the end of their tail to mark their home territory.
The North American River Otter at the zoo seemed very hyper. It swam around and was playing with some of its companions. The signs at the zoo say that the river otter builds its home near water and has underwater openings to the water for easy access and escape. They also keep two dens, one is for nesting and the other is for use during the day. These beautiful creatures can swim at 7 mph and on land can run at 18 mph.
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WhoZoo Animal Index
Mammals at the Fort Worth Zoo