Otters are carnivorous mammals. Sea otters are the largest member of the weasel family, yet the smallest in North America.
Otters can live on both lands and in water. They have webbed feet for swimming, dense fur for warmth, and can close ears and nose underwater. There are many facts about otters that will amaze you, before that let’s get to the introduction.
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Otters are mammals that belong to the subfamily Lutrinae and primarily belong to the Mustelidae family. Otters are mostly marine animals.
Thirteen species of otters are there in the world. They are aquatic or oceanic, and some are semi-aquatic.
The life span of female sea otters is more than male otters. Female otters live for more than 15 years, whereas male otters have a life span of 10 to 15 years.
The size of river otters is from 34-60 in. and 3 to 14 kg weight. The giant otter averages 145 to 180 cm. Male giant otters average 26 to 34 kg, while females average 22 to 26 kg.
The Asian small-clawed otter is the smallest, measuring 65 to 95 cm. and weighing 1 to 5 kg. These sizes and weights vary according to the species.
Otters are present all over the world, mostly in wet habitats. Their feeding depends upon fishes, crabs, and other invertebrates.
The animals in this family with otters are skunks, weasels, wolverines, and badgers. They seem small and helpless but never underestimate the power and self-defense ability of otters.
Facts About Otters Infographics
They belong to rivers, streams, oceans, marshes, and coastlines. They live in beavers, den made by animals. Otters dig the ground and form inner chambers and live there.
Otters might look cute in appearance but are dangerous wild animals. They have a powerful bite with sharp teeth. Here are some interesting facts about otters::
1. 90% of sea otters live on the coast of Alaska
If you go to the coast of Alaska, you will meet otters. Many otters live in the water surrounding Alaska. Some sea and river otters are available in Gulf of Alaska parks.
There are now 20,000 otters in Alaska, mainly in the Southern part. However, they are native to the northern and eastern Pacific oceans.
Some of them are present in Kodiak National Wildlife Refugee, Glacier Bay National Park. Some southern sea otters are present on the coastline of California and in San Nicolas Island.
2. Baby otters are known as pups
Female otters give birth to almost one to five offspring at a time and at any time throughout the year. Baby otters are called pups.
The gestation period of female otters is five months for large female otters and two months for smaller ones. The baby otters are known as “PUP.”
Otter pups are born blind, practically immobile, and toothless. They stay in the den until they get over proper nursing and care, sleep.
Otters can get pregnant for 60-65 days. Baby otters or pups need constant attention and care from their parents for six months until they get developed for survival.
Furs of otter pup are dense, which doesn’t let them swim underwater until their adult fur gets evolved.
3. What does an otter eat
Otters rely on food like clams, sea urchins, crabs, fish, mussels. They can eat food while floating in the water, and their sensitive whiskers allow them to find or locate small prey.
They can dive deep down below 250 feet for food. To fuel and energize their rapid metabolism, otters need to eat frequently. Hence, they eat 25% of their body weight every day.
Their diets are water animals or marine animals. These facts about otters explain they acquire energy from the diet. They are extremely active and fast.
5. Sea Otters use tools
Otters feed on shelled animals and aren’t equipped enough with the strength to open their food, even with teeth. They use rocks to break the shell off and enjoy their dinner.
Otters hunt for food underwater. Where possibly can they carry their weapon? They hide it under their arms where they have a loose patch of skin.
Mammals are among the few mammals that use tools. They use it as a hammer to break open the hard-shelled prey. These facts about otters suggest how intelligent and persuasive they are.
6. Sea otters hold hands when they sleep
Sea otters sleep on their backs on the floating water. To prevent the risk of drifting away in the vast seas, they prefer holding each other front paws as they sleep.
Otter’s consciousness seems to be at the next level.
7. Strong teeth
The crucial part of otters to hunt their prey is their teeth. Otters have a tougher tooth enamel compared to other animals and human beings.
Otters usually prevent their teeth from being cracked or chipped. They have an additional extra layer of gel on their tooth containing high protein. The gel is for preventing their teeth from cracks.
When they have animals like snails and thick-shelled bivalves, they use rocks to crack their shells to avoid harming their teeth. Otters use their canines to eat the meat from armor.
8. They have thick furs
They have millions of hair per square inch. There are two layers of hair categorized as an undercoat, and the long coats are visible through our eyes.
The layer of the fleece is for trapping air and making the otters warm and dry. Otter pups also have air trapped inside their fur, so they cannot dive underwater. They don’t have any blubbers present.
According to the research, they have almost 150,000 strands of hair per square cm. It is the densest of any animal.
9. Otters as pet
The technique to catch fish with the help of otters is called “otter fishing,” which dates back to the 6th century. Otters are used for fishing throughout many parts of the world.
The fishermen have been training otters to act as herders. Otters chase a school of fish into the nets, and humans retrieve the yields. As a reward, otters get some fish to eat.
Even in the 13th century, Marco Polo witnessed this method in the Yangtze River. This practice still exists in Bangladesh. This can be considered as one of the interesting facts about otters.
10. Otters can make 20 distinct noises
Otters can make 22 distinct noises different noises in different situations. Giant otters present in rivers are super communicative. They use 11 different sounds to communicate with their infants.
They use the “Hah” sound when they feel there is a threat. The “Hum gradation” sound tells otters to change their directions. They also use distress screams, whistles, growls, whines, and snarls.
Gurgling usually happens when they are happy. They can also communicate with body language and smell. These communication skills are also the facts about otters being a social animal.
11. Otters are not always adorable
Otter’s tend to be territorial and solitary. They mark and defend their territories and can be aggressive and defensive. They defend their territory with scratching and also fighting sometimes.
Male otters tend to ignore female otters and young ones in most of the years. They can be immensely aggressive when it comes to food and protecting their young ones.
The otter family loves to have kisses and cuddles with their young ones.
12. Otters have extreme breath-holding capacity
Otters can sense their prey better when they are underwater. They have 2.5 times greater lungs capacity than similar-sized land mammals.
Sea otters can hold their breath for more than 5 minutes, whereas 8 minutes for river otters. These facts about otters demonstrate their capacity to feed on their prey.
13. Otters are an important keystone species.
A “keystone species” plays a vital role in the ecosystem functionality affecting large-scale communities in which it lives. Otters feed on sea urchins, which helps forest from being overgrazed.
According to researchers, sea otters help control sea urchins’ population on the Pacific coast and enhance seagrass beds.
In Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, otters help expand the area’s ecosystem with the diverse environment, a breakthrough in environment conservation. Otters make a greater impact in the ecosystem of the community around its habitats.
14. Otters recognize each other smelling poops
Otters use scent-marking techniques to talk. They have scent glands at the base of their tail and deposit musky scents in their tail spraint.
The scent is one of the significant ways of communication in all animal kingdoms. Otters use their excrete known as spraint for communication.
The spraint composition varies from each other, yet they can identify their smells. Scientists think they can determine sex, age, and reproductive status from the spraint.
Since having a great metabolism and diet of 15-25 percent of their weight, they excrete plenty of poops.
15. Threats to otters
Otters are on the verge of limited habitat, and the main reason is humans and their increasing population. They have been poaching and assaulting the otters through shooting, fishing entanglements, boat strikes, etc.
Pollution, climate changes, and environmental destruction can be other threats to otters. There are also oil spill risks to sea otters.
Bobcats, alligators, crocodiles, coyotes are their predators. They also get hunted by human beings for their fur. Hence, the situation can lead to vulnerability and extinction of sea otters.
In conclusion, these facts about otters consist of some unusual and interesting behaviors and skills of these mammals. Their smelling capacity, lungs capacity, and communicative skills are better than humans and any other mammals.