North American river otter
Common Name: North American river otter
Latin Name: Lontra canadensis
Size/weight: Adult size is about 2.5 – 5 feet long (with tail) and 10 – 30 pounds.
Range: Throughout North America (Alaska, Canada and the lower 48 United States).
Habitat: River otters can be found in or near fresh water (lakes, streams, marshes, etc…) and in brackish waters. They build their dens (or take over abandoned dens of other animals) in riverbanks or in a natural hollow near the water.
Diet: North American river otters find most of their food in the water; amphibians, fish, turtles, crayfish, crabs and other invertebrates are favorites. Birds, eggs, aquatic plants, and small land mammals are sometimes on a river otter’s menu.
Predators: Bobcats, coyotes, birds of prey, dogs. Hunting.
Description: With their long, streamlined bodies and thick, tapered tails North American River otters are well suited to a life around the water. (Although they run with a distinctive "humpbacked" gait, they can run even faster than they can swim.) Otter fur is thick and dark brown, lighter on the underside. Long, sensitive whiskers help them find food under water.
Conservation Note: Once heavily hunted for their fur, North American river otter populations continue to rebound. In Connecticut, the population is large and stable enough to have a legal trapping season. Threats come from development and pollution, as otters prefer quiet areas with clean water.