All About Georgia OTTers

The otter is an amphibious mammal that can be found throughout the United States and other regions of the world. The good news is that these cute animals can be found in our home, Georgia. History reveals that the North American river otter (Lutra canadensis) is an amphibious playful member of the weasel family as are the mink and sea otter. The fur color of a river otter can be described as a dark brown to almost black.

In the United States, many states have experienced a gradual decline in the river otter populations in time. Despite this, otters are resilient creatures, as they were almost hunted to extinction in the late 1800’s, due to their luxurious fur. However, in the year 1911 the “International Fur Seal Treaty” banned the sale of otter fur. This period, in which fur trade was happening internationally, caused otters to be hunted almost to extinction.

Today, Georgia’s river otter population continues to remain fairly widespread throughout much of the state. These otters love to hunt, play, and sleep in rivers or streams in Georgia. The river otter thrives throughout the state of Georgia, including areas throughout north Georgia where its populations were once at risk for diminishing. A main factor that influences the population of river otters is pollution. For instance, in areas where water is very polluted there is a more limited otter population. Like many animals, the river otter abundance is directly dependent on habitat quality and availability. Otters will create dens with lots of vegetation present in various locations, such as near waterways, and these dens function to protect them from flooding or even protect from predators (Malzahn, Caven & Wiese, 2020).

In Georgia, there are several local places where residents and visitors have the chance to see river otters up close. The Georgia Aquarium is a wonderful place to see, interact, and even feed otters! This is a unique opportunity for individuals to touch, feed, and talk to sea otters with a professional trainer. Also, “The North Georgia Wildlife Park and Zoo” offers an interactive experience that is great to learn and see our native Georgia river otter. There are different experience options that include Otter Splash, Otter Experience, and VIP Otter Experience. Both of these places offer a great opportunity to learn more about river otters and how they behave in their natural habitats.

Facts about the River Otter

Resources

Malzahn, J. M., Caven, A. J., & Wiese, J. D. (2020). Characteristics of a river otter (Lontra canadensis) maternal den in the central Platte River Valley, NE.