river otter lifespan

Resolution of such conflicts will usually require removal and/or relocation of nuisance otters. Declines in the richness and diversity of prey species may explain these changes. Shape The World. As such, careful consideration of any threatened, endangered, or fish species of special interest is warranted prior to reintroduction of otters to a watershed. [50] A study conducted on North American river otters in a southwestern Arkansas swamp identified a correlation between crayfish consumption, fish consumption, and water levels. The North American river otters avoid water bodies with gradually sloping shorelines of sand or gravel. They are absent from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Family groups may include helpers, which can be made up of unrelated adults, yearlings, or juveniles. Its feet are webbed. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. [15] Tail lengths range from 30 to 50 centimetres (12 to 20 in). Scent marking is imperative for intergroup communication. [15], On land, the North American river otter can walk, run, bound, or slide. The North American river otter scent-marks with feces, urine, and possibly anal sac secretions. Sliding occurs mostly on even surfaces of snow or ice, but can also occur on grassy slopes and muddy banks. [45] In 2010, the Colorado Department of Wildlife reported the species, reintroduced in the 1980s, was "thriving" and recommended its protection status be reconsidered. North American river otters live alone or in family groups of, usually, females and their young. [15] North American river otters characteristically approach within a few feet of a boat or a person on shore because they're near-sighted, a consequence of vision adapted for underwater sight. [19] Litter size can reach five, but usually ranges from one to three. A river otter's life begins in an unusual way. The otters migrated to North America and southwards again across the Panamanian Land Bridge, which formed 3 Mya. [32] The North American river otters have also been known to catch and consume moulting American wigeon (Mareca americana) and green-winged teal (Anas crecca). The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family.While it may simply be called the "river otter" in North America (to distinguish it from the sea otter) there are other river otter species throughout the world. Environmental disasters, such as oil spills, may increase levels of blood haptoglobin and interleukin-6 immunoreactive protein, but decrease body mass. [15], North American river otters can produce a snarling growl or hissing bark when bothered, and a shrill whistle when in pain. Male North American river otters disperse from such family groups more often than females. North America's largest North American river otter populations were found in areas with an abundance and diversity of aquatic habitats, such as coastal marshes, the Great Lakes region, and glaciated areas of New England. Based in Las Vegas, Sandy Vigil has been a writer and educator since 1980. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. Home ranges of North American river otters increase in size on oiled areas compared to unoiled areas, and individual otters also modify their habitat use. Other research maintains that river otters mate for life. [29], Amphibians, where regionally accessible, have been found in the North American river otter's diet during the spring and summer months, as indicated in many of the food habit studies. Therefore, fish are more vulnerable to being preyed upon by otters because the crayfish have become more difficult to obtain. North American river otters can remain underwater for nearly 4 minutes, swim at speeds approaching 11 km/h (6.8 mph), dive to depths nearing 20 m (22 yd), and travel up to 400 m (440 yd) while underwater. North American river otters dry themselves and uphold the insulative quality of their fur by frequent rubbing and rolling on grass, bare ground, and logs. Empower Her. Several North American river otters may even cooperate while fishing. [33], Although they consume birds, North American river otters do not feed on bird eggs. In Alaska, the two species living in marine environments indicate niche separation through resource partitioning, probably related to the swimming abilities of these mustelids. [34] Most aquatic invertebrates preyed upon by the otters are from the families Odonata (dragonfly nymphs), Plecoptera (stonefly nymphs), and Coleoptera (adult beetles). ), and other game fish during spawning. [51], Waterfowl, rails, and some colonial nesting birds are preyed upon by North American river otters in various areas. After the parents breed and an egg is fertilized, the embryo becomes inactive in a stage called delayed implantation. Encounters between North American river otters and beavers are not necessarily hostile. A river otter can grow three to four feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) long including its tail and weigh between 11 and 30 pounds (5 to 14 kilograms). Daily movements of family groups averaged 4.7, 4.4, and 2.4 km (2.9, 2.7, and 1.5 mi) in spring, summer, and winter, respectively. The Japanese river otter (Japanese: ニホンカワウソ(日本川獺 ー, Hepburn: Nihon-kawauso) (Lutra lutra whiteleyi) is an extinct variety of otter formerly widespread in Japan. [53] Trappers in Alberta, Canada commonly assert North American river otters are major predators of North American beavers. The mean tracheal length of the North American river otter is 15.3 cm (6.0 in), or 23.2% of the body length. [15] Each otter pup weighs approximately five ounces. Otters that live in nature can live even longer if it wasn’t for the construction activity expansion by humans . [15], The North American river otter is sexually dimorphic. Kits live with their mother until the next breeding season, which is between a year and a year and a half. State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The river otter was first identified in 1777. The Neotropical river otter is also known to use caves as shelters, which other otters tend not to do. [41] However, North American river otters remain rare or absent in the southwestern United States. Otter is one of the mammal species of predators, which is included in the Mustelidae family. What do they look like? In addition, riverine habitats in interior regions supported smaller, but practical, otter populations. Since they swim so much, and get much of their food from the water, holding their breath for a long time … During walking, the limbs are moved in a plane parallel to the long axis of the body. Long and sleek, it has short legs, webbed feet, and a long tapered tail. The fur is a rich brown, moderately short, and very dense. Pups reach maturity by the time they are 2 years to 3 years old. [11], In a new classification, the species is called Lontra canadensis, where the genus Lontra includes all the New World river otters. [46] In late 2012, a river otter nicknamed Sutro Sam took up residence around the former site of the Sutro Baths in San Francisco, the first river otter sighting in that city in more than half a century. The Basics. Little effort has gone into assessing the threat of disease to wild North American river otter populations, so it is poorly understood and documented. [51] However, when water levels are lower, crayfish will seek out shelter while fish become more highly concentrated and susceptible to predation. The North American river otter is found throughout North America, inhabiting inland waterways and coastal areas in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, the Atlantic states, and the Gulf of Mexico. [39] Remains of the much larger North American beaver have been found in North American river otter scat in some regions, although most otter dietary studies in areas where otters and beaver are sympatric do not show them to be regular predators of beavers (despite the claims of fur-trappers that otters frequently hunt beavers) and perhaps only young beaver kits may be attacked. The smell and hearing abilities of the North American river otter are acute. in hatcheries or other fish culture facilities). [13] Fossils of a giant river otter dating back 3.5 Mya have been found in the US Midwest; however, fossils of the modern river otter did not appear in North America until about 1.9 Mya. [4] Instances of North American river otters eating small mammals, such as mice and squirrels, and occasionally birds have been reported as well. Musk from the scent glands may also be secreted when otters are frightened or angry. [51][54], The North American river otter has few natural predators when in water. [1], North American river otters often reside in beaver ponds. The otter is a secretive semi-aquatic species which was once widespread in Britain. [15], North American river otters are polygynous. ACTIVITY. By the early 1900s, North American river otter populations had declined throughout large portions of their historic range in North America. Starvation may occur due to excessive tooth damage. For instance, an Alberta, Canada study involved the collection and analysis of 1,191 samples of North American river otter scats collected during each season. These include mudminnows (Umbra limi) and sculpins (Cottus spp.). [1] The number of corpora lutea increases directly with age. PART OF WILD SKY MEDIA | FAMILY & PARENTING, University of Georgia Museum of Natural History: Northern River Otter, PBS: Yellowstone Otters, Life of the Otter, National Geographic: American River Otter, Prospect Park Zoo: North American River Otter. Even such fast-swimming species as trout become lethargic in extremely cold water, with a commensurate increase in their vulnerability to predation. Prey is captured with a quick lunge from ambush, or more rarely, after a sustained chase. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. In Idaho, North American river otters and beavers were recorded in the same beaver lodge simultaneously on three separate occasions. [19] At birth, the North American river otters are fully furred, blind, and toothless. The rhinarium is bare, with an obtuse, triangular projection. This allowed them to adjust to the seasons changing. Water pollution and other diminution of aquatic and wetland habitats may limit distribution and pose long-term threats if the enforcement of water quality standards is not upheld. © 2020 WILD SKY MEDIA. The tail makes up about a third of their total length. Lontra longicaudis. [15], Communication among North American river otters is accomplished mainly by olfactory and auditory signals. [38][40], North American river otters do not dramatically reduce prey populations in the wild, generally speaking. Since then it has been given a total of 11 common names. [33] Every study done on the food habits of the North American river otter has identified varying fish species as being the primary component of its diet. Reintroduction of river otters may present a problem in that it may contaminate the genetic structure of the native population. 671 Sample size Medium Data quality Acceptable Observations. A shorter trachea may improve air exchange and increase lung ventilation in diving mammals.[15]. Trapping, loss or degradation of aquatic habitats through filling of wetlands, and development of coal, oil, gas, tanning, timber, and other industries, resulted in extirpations, or declines, in North American river otter populations in many areas. Whelps are fully weaned by 3 months or 4 months. However, improvements in water quality (through enactment of clean water regulations) and furbearer management techniques have permitted river otters to regain portions of their range in many areas. Bounding is the result of simultaneous lifting of the limbs off the ground. It is the otter species with the widest distribution, being spread widely across Europe. In Mexico, the North American river otters lived in the Rio Grande and Colorado River Deltas. [15], North American river otters are renowned for their sense of play. There is a delayed implantation and thus the total gestation time varies from 290 to 380 days. Annual harvest numbers of North American river otters are similar for Canada and the United States, with most pelts being used in the garment industry. ); Cyprinidae, made up of carp (Cyprinus spp. [29] For instance, Catostomidae are the primary dietary component of North American river otters in Colorado's Upper Colorado River Basin. Otter have been known to live sixteen years in captivity, and may live 10 – 20 yrs in the wild. Eyes are small and placed anteriorly. [2], North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. The most common one is at the zoo. [33] Specific species of reptiles and amphibians prey include: boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata); Canadian toads (Bufo hemiophrys); wood frogs (Rana sylvatica);[34] bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana); green frogs (Rana clamitans);[36] northwestern salamanders (Ambystoma gracile); Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus); rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa);[33] and garter snakes (Thamnophis). Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) are semiaquatic, which means they split their time between land and water. The body of the river otter measures between 65 cm to 105 cm (25 to 41 inches) in length and the tail measures 32 to 45 cm (12 to 17 inches) in length. [15], North American river otters consume an extensive assortment of fish species ranging in size from 2 to 50 centimeters (0.79 to 19.69 in) that impart sufficient caloric intake for a minute amount of energy expenditure. Medicines for dogs are perfect for otter vaccination. [34][36][52], Records of North American otters preying upon North American beavers (Castor canadensis) vary; it has been reported in the southern boreal forest of Manitoba. [9] Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, and Prince of Wales otter. Data has shown that the river otter would shed their under fur fully from May to August. [1] The North American river otter existed on all parts of the Pacific Coast, including the seashore and inland streams and lakes. An otter is muscular, streamlined and solidly built. During the dry season, they will recede from the marshland and move to permanent ponds, where water is available and food is in greater supply. Its throat and belly are golden or silvery brown. [19] Large male North American river otters can exceed a weight of 15 kilograms (33 lb). Gestation. Since 1976, over 4,000 otters have been reintroduced in 21 U.S. states. [1] They are now absent or rare in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In addition, North American river otters can contract jaundice, hepatitis, feline panleucopenia, and pneumonia. You can usually observe feeding times at the zoos too which is fun. North American river otter pelts are used as the standard for rating the quality of other pelts. Terrestrial predators include the bobcat (Lynx rufus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), wolf (Canis lupus), black bear (Ursus americanus) and (in young or small North American river otters) red fox (Vulpes vulpes) . From mid-winter through the breeding season, adult females move and den alone. [9] The mammal was identified as a species of otter and has a variety of common names, including North American river otter, northern river otter, common otter and, simply, river otter. [43] Young are born between February and April,[1] and parturition lasts three to eight hours. more Meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters. It had a thick, lush coat of dark brown fur with short webbed feet. Live fish are typically eaten from the head. [15], The mothers raise their young without aid from adult males. River Otters Have 11 Names. [25], The North American river otter is more social than most mustelids. [37] Cases where they've been ambushed and consumed by grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus) have also been reportedly witnessed near the Arctic region. ); darters (Etheostoma spp. [30][31] Mammals preyed upon by North American river otters are characteristically small or are a type species found in riparian zones. Otters are commonly seen: Along the shorelines of inland lakes and Lake Superior exploring and hunting. The recognizable long, slender body is built for sliding down muddy river banks and snowy hills. The giant otter is well suited for an aquatic life, and can close its ears while underwater. The ears are short, the neck is the same diameter as the head, the legs are short and powerful, the toes are fully webbed, and the tail (one-third of body length) is tapered. The river otter has a long, streamlined body with dense brown fur. Copulation lasts from 16 to 73 minutes and may occur in water or on land. [1] North American river otter harvests correlate positively with the North American beaver harvests and with the average beaver pelt price from the preceding year. Moreover, a western Oregon study revealed fish remains were present in 80% of the 103 digestive tracts examined. [5][6][7], The range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America. Reintroduction projects have expanded their distribution in recent years, especially in the Midwestern United States. [15], Aquatic life ties North American river otters almost exclusively to permanent watersheds. They host numerous endoparasites, such as nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, the sporozoan Isopora, and acanthocephalans. General description: The otter is perfectly suited for an aquatic life. [30] North American river otters generally feed on prey that is in larger supply and easier to catch. These are features common to other otter … North American river otters are active year-round, and are most active at night and during crepuscular hours. A river otter's life begins in an unusual way. [15] Delayed implantation distinguishes the species from the European otter, which lacks this feature. ); and perches (Perca spp.). They're not slow creatures. [34][49] Invertebrates discovered within scats or digestive tracts could most likely be a secondary food item, first being consumed by the fish that are subsequently preyed upon by the North American river otters. The average otter lifespan of the animal in captivity – 15 years, in wildlife there are rare specimens older than 10 years. [15], North American river otters typically breed from December to April. Adaptations: River otters are well suited for their semi-aquatic lifestyle. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. The species is widely distributed throughout its range. An otter's tail is long and tapered, thickest where it joins the body and furred its entire length. The North American River Otter is very streamlined, having a muscular body with short legs, webbed toes and a long muscular tail. It has a wide, rounded head with small ears and long, white whiskers. [28] This availability is influenced by the following factors: detectability and mobility of the prey, habitat availability for the various prey species, environmental factors, such as water depth and temperature, and seasonal changes in prey supply and distribution in correspondence with otter foraging habitat. River Otter (Lutra canadensis Schreber) From: Saunders, D. A. [15], Threats to North American river otter populations in North America vary regionally. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also called the Canadian otter, is the most abundant species of otter.They are found throughout most of North America – from the Rio Grande in Northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. The North American river otter has a delicate sense of touch in the paws in addition to great dexterity. wild Neotropical river otter have a life expectancy of 11 years (Berry 2000), and surpasses it in captivity. Appearance and lifespan. On occasion, groups of unrelated juveniles are observed. As a result, slow-swimming fish are consumed more often than game fishes when both are equally available. In captivity they live 10 - 15 years. 1. [22] Den sites include burrows dug by woodchucks (Marmota monax), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), nutria (Myocastor coypus), or beaver and muskrat lodges. Its body length ranges from 66 to 107 centimetres (26 to 42 in). [1], Habitat degradation and pollution are major threats to their conservation; North American river otters are highly sensitive to pollution[citation needed] and readily accumulate high levels of mercury, organochloride compounds, and other chemical elements.

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