We might find Otters cute and small but let’s find out some surprising and unknown facts about Otters. They seem small and helpless but never underestimate the power and self-defense that makes them able to survive in this ecosystem.
What are Otters?
Otters are mammals that belong to the subfamily Lutrinae. They are carnivorous. Otters are mostly marine animals. Thirteen species of otters are there in the world. They are aquatic or oceanic, and some are semi-aquatic.
What Otters eat?
Their feeding depends upon fishes, crabs, and other invertebrates. Otters primarily belong to the Mustelidae family. The life span of female sea otters is more than male otters. Females’ otters live for more than 15 years, whereas male otters have a life span of up to 10 to 15 years. Otters are present all over the world, mostly in wet habitats.
Where are Otters found?
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.
They are not available around the arid desert and treeless arctic. 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 be going to meet otters. Many otters live in the water surrounding Alaska. They also call Alaska their native home. The fact about otters’ origin from Alaska is quite surprising.
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. Some sea and river otters are available in Gulf of Alaska parks.
Otters belong to the weasel family and have the largest members. On the other hand, it is one of the smallest marine mammals. Although, there are now 20,000 otters in Alaska, mainly in the Southern part. However, they are native to the northern and eastern pacific ocean. River otters are found everywhere in Alaska.
2. Baby otters are known as pups
Female otters give birth to almost one to five offsprings at a time. They can give birth at any time throughout the year. Female otters go through the gestation period of 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. Their diet is 25% of their body weight
Otters rely on food like clams, sea urchins, crabs, fishes, mussels. They can eat food while floating in the water. They can dive deep down below 250 feet for food. Their sensitive whiskers allow them to find or locate small prey.
To fuel and energize their rapid metabolism, otters need to eat frequently. Hence, they 25% of its body weight every day. Their diet only depends upon water animals or marine animals. Therefore, they are carnivores.
4. Strong teeth
Otters have a tougher tooth enamel compared to other animals and human beings. They usually prevent their teeth from being cracked or chipped. The crucial part of otters to hunt their prey is their teeth.
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, thick-shelled bivalves, they use rocks to crack their shells to avoid their teeth.
Then they use their canines to eat the meat from armor. Sea otters are the only mammals that use stones or rocks as a tool for feeding. This fact about otter shows it’s the only animal able to do so.
5. 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 until they are fully grown-ups. 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.
6. Otters can make 20 distinct noises
The interesting fact about otters are they 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. They also make chirp, purr. Gurgling usually happens when they are happy. They can also communicate with body language and smell.
Otters use scent-marking techniques to talk. The scent is one of the significant ways of communication in all animal kingdom. They have scent glands at the base of their tail. Otters deposit musky scents in their tail spraint.
7. Otters are not always adorable
They tend to be territorial and solitary. They mark and defend their territories. Otters 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 protect their young ones. The otter family loves to have kisses and cuddles with their young ones.
8. 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, coyotes are their predators. These predators can sometimes prey on them. They also get hunted by human beings for their fur.
Hence, the situation can lead to vulnerability and extinction of sea otters.
(Last Updated On: February 9, 2021)