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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Otter Facts You’ll Never Forget

Here are sea otter facts for kids to learn more about otters.

Otters (genus Lutra) hail from the subfamily of Lutrinae and are carnivorous mammals. There are around 13 extant species, out of which some of them are aquatic, semiaquatic, and marine, and their diet mainly consists of fish and invertebrates. Otters have bodies that are long and slim, and have short limbs. Their fur helps to keep them warm even in extremely low polar temperatures.

They have feet that are powerful and webbed which enables them to swim, and they also have the ability to hold their breath underwater. There are a total of 13 species of otters, including Eurasian otters, small clawed otter, North American river otter, giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), southern sea otters, marine otter (Lontra felina), and more. The size and the weight varies according to the different types of species. Most otters are active hunters, and river otters only go hunting or travel. As they are wild animals, they are dangerous in nature, and there are chances that they might harm you.

Here are some of the most interesting baby otter facts and adult otter facts for you. After reading these river otter facts, you may also look at European otter facts and leopard seal facts as well.

Otter Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an otter?

North American river otter (genus Lutra) is a type of marine mammal that is one of the companions of the Mustelidae family and their relatives include skunks, weasels, wolverines, and badgers. The sea otter is known to be the largest member of the weasel family. Small clawed otters are one of the smartest species present on the planet and they even know how to play basketball as well as stack cups.

What class of animal does an otter belong to?

Sea otters belong to the class of mammals. They are carnivorous mammals that hunt for birds, rodents, rabbits, fishes, crabs, crustaceans, mollusks, and frogs. Their diet includes the mentioned animals.

How many otters are there in the world?

According to the estimation, there are around 106,000 sea otters that are present worldwide. The number of otters keeps changing based on different factors such as climate change, weather conditions, hunting, predators, environmental factors, and their surroundings which can all affect their lifespan. Their populations are divided into various sea otter species such as small clawed otter, North American river otters, giant otters, southern sea otters, marine otters (Lontra felina) and several other otter species. Conservation efforts are on to prevent this species from the Endagered status.

Where does an otter live?

Sea otters live in different habitats based on their species. Some of the species live near rivers, whereas some live in the sea. They are adapted to live in any habitats such as freshwater rivers, lakes, oceans, coastlines, and marshes. Some otters even live in the dens that are made by the other animals. Their favorite places include wetlands, rivers, and coastlines. They are found in North America, South America, Pacific coast, and other areas, except places where the weather is too extreme, such as Australia and Antarctica.

What is an otter's habitat?

Otter habitats consist of freshwater rivers, lakes, oceans, coastlines, and marshes. Some sea otters even live in the dens that are made by the other animals. Their favorite places include wetlands, rivers, and coastlines. Their fur helps keep them warm during extreme weather conditions. They also tend to stick close to places where their food source is rife and varying.

Who do otters live with?

Some sea otters (Enhydra lutris) live alone, whereas some of the other otters live in pairs as they generally forage in the water as well as on land. Some river otters socialize in groups and are playful in nature. Otters come together to mate and give birth to the new offspring. They also live in small social groups, sometimes depending on their species.

How long does an otter live?

The lifespan of a sea otter is that of eight to nine years in the wild, whereas it is said to be up to 21 years in captivity. The lifespan of otters also depends on different factors such as climate change, environmental factors, surroundings, and also their food and health. In fact, due to health issues, some sea otters live even shorter lives.

How do they reproduce?

In some species of sea otters (Enhydra lutris), the male tries to bite the female’s upper jaw or nose, and they grasp the neck of the female with the use of scruff. The copulation of the male and females take place in the water, and the process lasts for ten to 30 minutes. After the male sea otters have found a potential mate, they get playful together which leads to copulation. Once this has taken place and the otter is pregnant with a pup, the gestation period will last for a few months.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of otters is Not Extinct as the number of species keeps changing. This fluctuation in number is due to different factors that are responsible for their lifespan, such as habitat loss, climate change and predators. Some of the species of sea otters are listed as Endangered and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Marine Mammal Protection Act is to protect and stop the Extinction of wild animals. Therefore, though the official conservation status of the otters is Not Extinct, it is necessary to protect the different species of otters, as there are chances that they might come into the category of Endangered species or Vulnerable species if no effort is put into keeping them protected.

Otter Fun Facts

What do otters look like?

Sea otters are small in size, they have ears and noses that are short, bodies that are elongated, long tails, and fur that is soft and dense. They have long and slim bodies and limbs that are relatively short. They have webbed feet that are powerful and help them to swim, and they have the ability to hold their breath while they swim underwater, much like the seal.

A sea otter has webbed feet.

How cute are they?

Sea otters are very adorable and are known to be one of the earth's cutest animals. They are often fluffy like kittens and are big-eyed. They act a lot like humans, and that is one of the reasons why humans love otters so much, and some keep them as pets. They are friendly in nature, but they keep a safe distance from humans.

How do they communicate?

There are different ways in which sea otters communicate with each other to convey their messages. They communicate with whistles, yelps, growls, and screams and also by body posture and by touch. They also chirp, squeal, blow, or whistle and make more noise when they are stressed, threatened, or are playing with the other sea otter species. They also communicate through smell and have their scent mark with the use of secret glands near their tail.

How big is an otter?

The size of the otters varies from one species to another. The largest sea otter is a lot bigger when compared to the other species of otters. The average size of otters ranges between 35-60 in (88-152 cm). The sizes are different, some of the otters are medium in size whereas some are big in size.

How fast can an otter move?

Otters can swim at a speed of around 30 mph (48 kmph). The river otters keep traveling over snow and ice by running and sliding. While the sea otters find it difficult to be on land and spend most of their time in the water. However, all otter species tend to move faster when they see the predators approaching them accordingly.

How much does an otter weigh?

The weight of the otter varies from one species to another. Food and nutrition can also determine the weight of the otters. Adult marine mammals gain weight and lose weight based on the water temperatures throughout the year. The Eurasian otter weighs around 16-27 lb (7.2-12.2 kg), the marine otter weighs around 6.6- 13 lb (2.9-5.8 kg), and hairy-nosed otters weigh about 11-13.2 lb (4.9-5.9 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male otters are known as boars, and the female otters are known as sows.

What would you call a baby otter?

A baby otter is called a pup. The pup reaches sexual maturity by the age of two to three years. Although, they often take longer than this to start mating with other otters.

What do they eat?

Otter diet consists of eat fish, crustaceans, and other critters. Otters eat crabs, crayfishes, and other marine invertebrates according to their need. Some of the otters also prey on birds, rabbits, and rodents occasionally. The sea otters eat sea urchins, a variety of clams, mussels, and crabs.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, otters can be dangerous as they are wild animals, and there are chances that they might harm you. Though they look cute, soft, and cuddly, they are said to be wild animals. The giant otter teeth are strong and can have a powerful bite if you try to threaten them or harm them. It is advisable to humans that they should at least maintain a distance of at least 50 yards and should never feed sea otters as they can injure you.

Would they make a good pet?

No, an otter pet will not be happy if kept in captivity. Most of the otters like to live in their natural habitat. It is not safe to keep otters as a pet as they are wild animals that are dangerous and can harm you. When they are kept as pets, they feel isolated as they are kept far from the other otters and feel alone. Otter food requirements must be taken into consideration before making a decision. They also need a lot of space to be able to swim and run around. Some otters are kept as pets when they have been rescued as a pup, but this is not a long term solution and they don't generally do well when kept as pets.

Did you know...

Around 90 percent of sea otters live in coastal Alaska. They also have the thickest fur of any animal. Otters have offspring at any time of the year. Otters are said to use hammers or an anvil to break open hard-shelled prey. Sea otters eat almost 25 percent of their body weight in food every day.

They do not need any carrier bags as they store their food and carry rocks under the loose skin of their armpit. The mothers leave their pups floating on the water while they hunt for food. They wrap themselves and then sleep while sticking together.

You can draw an otter by making a large sausage-like shape, then add a circle for a head and limb like features. Don't forget to add a tail either!

How to get a pet otter?

Otters shouldn’t be contained as pets in the house as they are wild animals. There are different laws and regulations regarding different species to be kept as pets in the house or not. There are some states where having an otter as a pet is legal, but it is also important that you contact the authorities before adopting an otter as a pet. As it is difficult to find an otter as a pet, you need to contact the broker who will help you with the breeding of the otter. Since the otters are rare to be kept as pets, one otter can cost you up to 3,000 USD.

Do otters hold hands while they sleep?

Yes, otters hold hands while they sleep to keep themselves from floating away in the swirling sea. They often entangle in the forests of kelp to provide anchorage. This is the only reason why they hold hands while they sleep.

Do otters kiss?

Yes, otters kiss as they are affectionate in nature. They are not afraid to show how much they care for each other. The sea otters also hold each other’s hands while they sleep on their backs in the ocean to protect each other. Kissing is a way to show that they care for each other.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including tamandua, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our otter coloring pages.

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