Otterly Fabulous

Otter – looking at the camera

You may recall that back in April we celebrated International Beaver Day.  Well, now the otter gets its turn.  May 31st, 2023 is World Otter Day.  This holiday always falls on a Wednesday.  So next year, 2024, it will fall on May 29th.

There are thirteen different species of otter (Lontra canadensis):  Sea Otter, North American River Otter, Eurasian Otter, Giant Otter, Asian Small-Clawed Otter, Smooth-Coated Otter, African Clawless Otter, Marine Otter, Neotropical Otter, Spotted-Necked Otter, Hairy-Nosed Otter, Southern River Otter, and Japanese Otter.

The North American river otter’s range includes the Quad-Cities, since they prefer water bordered by woods and wetlands.  They are strong swimmers, using their long body and tail to slide through the water, paddling with their webbed hind feet.  River otters have a transparent inner eyelid (called a nictitating membrane) to protect their eyes while swimming.  They can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes.  They close their nostrils to keep water out during these long dives.

They are considered a fur-bearing animal having the thickest fur of any mammal, with as many as 850,000 hairs per square inch.

River otters are mostly nocturnal.  They feed on crayfish, fish, other small mammals, and aquatic plants.  They are social animals with groups consisting of a female and her juvenile offspring.

These carnivorous mammals tend to weigh 11-30 pounds when fully grown.   They live 8-9 years in the wild.  It is estimated that there are 100,000 North American river otters in the United States and Canada.

Want to learn more?  Check out the following juvenile titles:

Sea otters, by Laura Marsh

Otters under water, by Jim Arnosky

The otter, by Bert Kitchen

Sea Otter Heroes, by Patricia Newman

Otters, by Jane and Doran Whitledge

Odder, by Katherine Applegate