RIVER OTTER By: Katy Jordan
CHARACTERISTICS • The River Otter has a streamlined, torpedo shaped body that measures approximately 3-4 feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. • The River Otter’s feet are wide and webbed which makes it easier for the animal to swim. • It can weigh anywhere from 15-25 pounds. • Its outer fur is dark brown and water repellent with lighter brown or silver fur on its belly. • Its first layer of fur is finer and soft to keep it warm. • Its eyes are on the side of its head, and it has ears and nostrils that close while it swims. • Sensory hairs on its snout help it locate prey by sensing water turbulence.
HABITAT • River otters occupy more than 80% of Indiana counties. • They spend their time equally in the water and on land. • They make their homes in burrows near the water's edge. • River otters can survive anywhere there is fish.
DIET CARNIVORE • Fish • Frogs • Crayfish • Turtles • Crabs • Birds • Rabbits • Rodents
PREDATORS • Bobcat • Coyote • Birds of Prey • Man
REPRODUCTION • River Otters Mate in late winter or early spring. • Mating may take place on land or in water. • The development of the newborn is during the last 50-61 days of the 9.5-12.5 month gestation period. • The average litter size is 2 or 3 but can range from 1 to 6. • Newborn Otters are blind, fully furred, and weigh about 4.6 ounces.
River Otters come out of their den around 10 days old. • Their mother teaches them to swim by dragging them into the water and letting them ride on her back. • She teaches them to hunt by releasing fish she catches and then letting them attack it. • The newborns remain with their mother until she has her next litter the following Spring. • River Otters may live up to 20 years in captivity. • In the wild, they live approximately 10 years.
REFERENCES http://www.animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/american-river-otter/ http://www.esf.edu/aec/adks/mammals/otter.htm http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/7438.htm http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fw-2011_otter_distribution_map.pdf http://www.indianaeconomicdigest.net/main.asp?SectionID=31&SubSectionID=81&ArticleID=67571 http://leesonphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/River-Otter/G0000Kb9nsVggnGQ http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/indiana/journeywithnature/welcome-back-river-otters.xml http://www.nwitimes.com/sports/local/river-otters-returning-to-indiana/article_38dc1396-1312-5a61-b1c3-47db4dd3fb2c.html http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/otters/diet.htm http://thestatehousefile.com/river-otters-thriving-now-in-indiana/8365/