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North American River Otter Lontra Canadensis PowerPoint Presentation
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North American River Otter Lontra Canadensis

North American River Otter Lontra Canadensis

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North American River Otter Lontra Canadensis

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  1. North American River OtterLontra Canadensis Ben Robinson

  2. Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Subfamily: Lutrinae Genus: Lontra Species: Canadensis Taxonomy

  3. Color: Dark brown with paler belly Throat often sliver-gray Total length: 38-58 in Weight: 11-33 lbs Hair: very smooth, repels water easily Long, slender body=excellent swimmer River Otter Identification

  4. Identification continued Long, stiff facial whiskers below the nose which aid in locating and capture of prey Carnivorous teeth: adapted for grasping, grinding, shearing, and crushing Feet: large and completely webbed Tail: very muscular, important for swimming, makes up 50% of total body length Maximum body length is reached at 3-4 years Typical Foods: Fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, snakes, frogs, and to a lesser extent waterfowl and mammals.

  5. North American River Otter Skeleton*Note the Long Tail*

  6. River Otter Tracks

  7. Breeding: early spring; mating may take place in water or on land No strong bond between male and female Male will mate with more than one female Males will compete heavily for females Females exhibit delayed implantation Life History

  8. Life History continued • Delayed Implantation: female may retain the fertilized egg for long periods of time before implantation to become more nutritionally fit • Young: born April-May litter 1-5 pups young born with eyes closed and no teeth female cares for pups pups begin to swim at 2 months weaned at 4-5 months, may stay with mother for 1 year

  9. Males and females are able to reproduce at 2 years, however males may not be successful until ages 5-7 Voice: Whistle and chattering call during mating season, soft chuckle, chirp, grunt, snort, and growl Life History continued

  10. Sounds of the Otter Otter OtterTalk Upset Otter

  11. Species Cape-clawless otter Oriental-small clawed otter Congo Clawless otter Sea otter North American River Otter Marine Otter Neotropical Otter Southern River Otter Eurasian Otter Spotted-necked otter Range Africa Asia Africa North America North America South America Mexico & South America South America Asia & Europe Africa Diversity of Group13 species worldwide; 2 in North America

  12. Species India smooth-coated otter Hairy-nosed otter Giant Otter Range Asia Southern Iraq & Asia South America Diversity continued

  13. North American Population Statusand Status in Kentucky • North America: River Otter numbers have drastically decreased since the 1800’s • WHY? Over-harvest (trapping), Habitat Destruction, and Pollution • Over 30,000 pelts are sold annually in the United States today • DDT pollution: gets into the liver and slowly kills the animal (a big problem in the past) • Chemicals from crops (pesticides, herbicides) get into fish from run-off and the otter eats the fish = SLOW DEATH

  14. Status in Kentucky • Statewide, but not very common • Generally more abundant in western Kentucky • Increasing in central and eastern restoration areas

  15. 2003-04 Small Game Kentucky Hunting Seasons • ALL FURBEARER HUNTING & TRAPPING • Noon November 10, 2003 through noon February 29, 2004 • (Includes raccoon, opossum, mink, muskrat, beaver, red fox, gray fox, weasel and striped skunk) *NOTE: NO River Otter*

  16. Not federally threatened or endangered, but could become so due to drastic declines in numbers! Are listed as threatened by some individual states. Threatened or Endangered

  17. Wetland Habitat Needs • Found in a variety of aquatic habitats: from riparian to riverine to marine • Only found in areas with adequate vegetative cover • Must have sufficient food supply • Need a variety of dens, activity, and resting areas

  18. Ecology • The River Otter is a predator at the top of the aquatic food chain • Important in the nutrient cycle by transferring nutrients from one ecosystem to another Does this by feeding on aquatic organisms, then leaves its waste on land

  19. Ecology continued • River otters frequent the same terrestrial area to deposit waste; known as a latrine • Even though Otters are predators, the pups are constantly preyed upon by Bald Eagles and other large birds

  20. Management Concerns • Most states have strict regulations on otter harvest • However, they are less strict on beaver harvest • Otters and Beavers occupy the same habitat types = otters being trapped in beaver sets • Because otters (carnivores) require more habitat area than say beavers or muskrats (herbivores), they will never be as abundant as these animals

  21. Management ConcernsWhat is being done? • Many states closely monitor otter numbers • HOW? 1)Pelt Regristration 2)Fur buyer and trapper questionnaires 3)Winter track counts 4)Mammal observation studies

  22. Latrine System • The latrine system “bathroom” used by otters is one technique used by managers to monitor the abundance of otters in an area • According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, River Otter habitat selection and population monitoring can be achieved by studying latrine sites

  23. Thank you for your time…Any questions?