An Introduction to OTTers

Otters

The otter is a resilient and fascinating animal that can be found throughout the United States, as well as throughout most continents. Otters can be found all over the world, from Asia to Alaska, these animals are globally loved. Their scientific name is Mustelidae. This adorable animal is a member of the weasel family, yet they are the only one within the family that can swim. Otters are described as tiny, with short ears, lengthened bodies, and very soft fur. These charming otters are small animals that average about four feet in length and can weigh up to 30 pounds. There have been 13 identified species in total of the otter. Otters live primarily on land that is very close to bodies of water, as they are amphibious. Their fur is dense and soft, and this remains important, as it can play a large role in insulating these animals when they are in water.

Environmental Impact and Otters

It is important to acknowledge that the environment’s health has a direct relationship to the health of many animals, including the otter. Today, many otter populations are still at risk! More importantly, as countries become industrialized, the wildlife can slowly but surely disappear (Duplaix & Savage, 2020). The history of the otter is very unique, because due to their luxurious fur, these animals were trapped, killed, and illegally sold throughout continents. These issues caused otters to have a period of major population loss during the 1960s and 1970s, paired with a slow-growing population recovery (Mason, & Macdonald, 2009).

How Otters Use Tools to Eat

Otters often use tools to eat, and it is important to note that the otter is an expert hunter. Otters are very innovative creatures and are one of the few animals that will use tools to obtain food. Their diet can vary depending on the season; however, they are considered opportunistic predators and thrive on fish. Despite their diet mainly being fish, this doesn’t stop otters from forming dens and adapting to their natural habitat. In fact, sea otters are able to open mussels by smashing them on stones. Click this link to see sea otters eating! Otter habitats can vary based on the species, but these animals thrive in both land and water.

Resources:

  • Duplaix, N., & Savage, M. (2020). The global otter conservation strategy. eScholarship, University of California.

  • Mason, C. F., & Macdonald, S. M. (2009). Otters: ecology and conservation. Cambridge University Press.