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Northern River Otter Lutra canadensis (Lontra canadensis)


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Northern River Otters
credit: Dmitry Azovtsev/CCSA

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Family: Mustelidae, Weasels view all from this family

Description The only river otter in North America. Back is brown; chin and throat are silvery. Tail is long, thick at the base, and gradually tapering. Mostly nocturnal, often seen at dusk or dawn. Scenting latrine areas on shore consist of matted-down vegetation and scraped-up earth, with defecations around the periphery.

Dimensions 1.1m, 42-47cm, 7.7-9.4kg; / 0.9-1.1m, 31-40cm, 4.5-13.6kg

Breeding They mate in the water in late winter or early spring, and the active gestation period is about 2 months, but can last up to a year through delayed implantation.

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries, Offshore waters, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Cities, suburbs & towns, Forests & woodlands

Range Plains, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Florida, Texas, California, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska

Discussion Eats fish and other aquatic prey. Dens are reworked from other animalsí burrows or natural shelters under logs, trees, rocks, thickets or along river banks. An underwater entrance leads to a nest chamber lined with plant material and hair. Lives in most types of unpolluted freshwater and coastal marine habitats, but rare or extirpated in many parts of the east and Mid-west.