Fun River Otter Facts

Photo: Rosamond Gifford Zoo/Facebook

We’ve shared some reasons why we love otters, and we thought it would be great to share some more information about otters.

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For this installment, we will be looking at river otters, courtesy of  The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York,

Native to Canada and the U.S. (including New York), North American river otters reside in freshwater ponds, lakes and marshlands.

River otters are excellent swimmers and divers and are usually found no more than 10 yards from water. They swim by movement of the legs and tail and can remain underwater for six to eight minutes. Their small ears and nostrils can be closed when underwater.

  • The river otter’s body is long and cylindrical, with a tail that is thick at the base and tapers at the end.
  • The river otter’s feet are flat and webbed for swimming and paddling in or under the water.
  • Their outer fur is chocolate brown to pale chestnut in color.
  • They have weak vision, acute hearing and a well-developed sense of smell.
  • Their vocalizations vary from shrill chirps to screams, grunts or coughs.

Otters are active during the day and night. They are highly intelligent and extremely curious animals. Their diet in the wild consists of fish, frogs, crayfish, aquatic invertebrates, birds, rodents and rabbits. At the zoo, they are given live fish for enrichment.

FUN FACT: Otters are extremely playful, sliding in snow and down muddy banks. When traveling on ground or snow and ice, otters use a combination of running and sliding. On land, they can attain speeds up to 17 miles per hour.

Aren’t you just loving otters more and more each day?!