What Do Otters Eat? Which Food Do They 'Otter-ly' Love?

Joan Agie
Oct 16, 2023 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Nov 10, 2021
Giant otter standing on log
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

Otters love swimming underwater but they surface up by sitting on rocks near the water's edge to warm their bodies in their habitat.

The eating habits of this marine animal species are known to vary according to the habitat the members spend their life in. Generally, these wild animals dive in the water to catch their prey and then come to the land to consume it.

Otters are carnivorous mammals belonging to a branch of the weasel family that dives into rivers, lakes, and streams until they discover a suitable prey species to eat, which they then hunt. There are 13 different species of otter found all over the world.

The sea otter and the North American river otter are both found in the United States.

River otters are substantially smaller than sea otters, weigh between 10-30 lb (4.5-13.6 kg), and have a cylindrical body and small skull. Sea otters have larger, hairy faces and weigh between 45-90 lb (20.4-40.8 kg).

Otters are noted for their natural curiosity and they play a lot, hence being well-known for having a playful nature. Playing together strengthens family relationships and teaches vital life skills to the puppies, such as how to find food and other life skills.

Boars are males whereas sows are female otters, and pups are the progeny(young ones).

The only species with a shorter and less muscular tail is the sea otter. Male sea otters and females live in distinct groups and only interact during mating season.

The otter is a carnivorous mammal that hails from the Lutrinae branch of the weasel family. There are 13 different species of otter that may be found all over the world.

Many otters spend all of their time in the water, whereas others live both on land and in the water. The European otter or Eurasian otter, North American river otter, sea otter, and giant otter are the four primary otter species.

Eurasian otter sizes range from the tiniest Oriental small-clawed otter to the largest sea otter and giant otters.

Otters may appear gentle and lovable, yet they are deadly wild animals. Young otters have powerful bites and robust teeth and they generally engage in hunting to catch their prey.

After reading these fun facts about the eating habits of otters, why not find out the answers to are otters predators, and can you have an otter as a pet?

Do otters eat vegetables?

Otters are carnivores that live in water bodies across the northern and southern hemispheres. Hundreds of different sorts of invertebrates, lurking on the ocean floor, make up the food of otters.

River otters in zoos often consume a diet that includes meat, fish, eggs, and a variety of vegetables. Aside from that, otters enjoy berries and fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and other similar foods. They adore grapes, and many of them also enjoy tomatoes.

Carrots and peas are also favorites. Plant odors don't appear to pique the curiosity of otters. North American river otters, however, who mostly consume aquatic species such as frogs, fish, turtles, crayfish, and crabs, may also consume aquatic vegetation on occasion.

Otters Diet By Types

The eating habits of otters differ greatly depending on species, region, and season. The high metabolic rate of an otter, which is crucial for producing body heat, necessitates a large amount of food.

Males which are large might consume up to 24.2 lb (11 kg) of food every day. Every day, river otters consume 15% to 20% of their whole body weight. Sea otters consume between 25% to 30% of their body weight.

The Eurasian otter is common in the United Kingdom although such a species has also been seen in various regions of Europe, China, Eastern Russia, the South East and South Asia, and North Africa. The major source of food for the Eurasian otter is fish, which accounts for 80% of its diet.

These excellent predators may even dive into the water to locate and ambush their prey. They eat amphibians, aquatic insects, small animals, birds, reptiles, and crabs.

River otters consume a wide range of aquatic species, including fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds' eggs, and even reptiles like turtles. These fun-loving animals have also been observed eating water vegetation and preying on small animals such as muskrats and rabbits.

In Africa, the African clawless otter may be found in large numbers. This animal is primarily aquatic and prefers to live near perennial or seasonal rivers.

The African clawless otter eats meat. Crabs, lobsters, insects, frogs, and a variety of fish species make up its diet. Ducks, little ducks, shrews, reptiles, swans, geese, mollusks, and coots have all been documented to be eaten by this species.

The smooth-coated otter eats meat. Frogs, birds, turtles, water snakes, crabs, and water rats make up the rest of the otters' food in the wild, which consists of more than 90% fish over 5.9 in (15cm) long, and mostly slow-moving species like catfish.

Hairy-nosed otters live in the flooded forests, coastal mangrove and Melaleuca forests, marshes, and forest streams, among other environments. Crabs and crayfish are among their favorite foods, although they also consume fish, mollusks, water snakes, birds, and amphibians.

Central America, South America, and the island of Trinidad are all home to Neotropical river otters. Fish and crustaceans comprise a considerable portion of the Neotropical otter's diet, accounting for 67% and 28% of its total calories, respectively. Mollusks, as well as small animals, are also consumed by this otter on occasion.

Where do otters fit in the animal food chain?

In the food chain, otters are referred to as primary consumers since they obtain their energy from eating primary producers. Since sea otters eat sea urchins, sea otters would be secondary consumers.

Sea otters, as apex predators, are essential to the balance of nearshore habitats including kelp forests, embayment, and estuaries. Sea urchins can overpopulate the seafloor without sea otters, destroying the kelp forests that offer cover and food for several other marine species.

Otters are classified as trophic level three. A snake that eats a mouse might be a secondary consumer in a desert habitat.

At the fourth trophic level, tertiary consumers devour secondary consumers. Sea otters are secondary consumers in the kelp forest, hunting sea urchins below the water's surface.

Giant River Otter eating fish

What do giant river otters eat?

The giant otter, sometimes known as the giant river otter, is a carnivorous mammal native to South America. This is the longest member of the Mustelidae weasel family, a worldwide efficient family of predators.

Giant river otters eat fish. They mostly consume catfish, perch, and characins, but they can consume tiny snakes, caimans, frogs, prawns, and crabs as well.

Giant otters hunt alone or in groups, sometimes employing a collective approach, and must be successful frequently to achieve their daily intake limit. Each animal may consume six to nine pounds of food each and every day.

A Sea Otter's Diet

Sea otters are crucial predators that belong to the kelp forests where they thrive.

The food of a sea otter consists mostly of slow-moving fish and marine invertebrates such as crabs, sea urchins, abalones, clams, mussels, snails, crabs, scallops, fish, barnacles, octopus, worms, and squid, which it collects with its clawed paws rather than its mouth.

The trapped prey is devoured at sea while the otter floats on its back and grips it with its webbed feet.

Mussels, bivalves, snails, crustaceans, turtles, frogs, huge beetles, worms, injured waterfowl or chicks, bird eggs, fish eggs, snakes, and snake eggs are all part of the food chain of these mammals. Mice, immature beavers, and muskrats are among the small mammals in the river otter food chain.

These mammals eat a wide range of water animals, including fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds' eggs, and reptiles like turtles.

They've also been observed eating water plants and preying on small mammals like muskrats and rabbits. As they have a fast metabolism, they must eat regularly.

Ethics Of Feeding Otters

Feeding wild animals might cause them to become hostile. It is critical to remember that you should never feed sea otters or other wildlife. It can be dangerous to feed an otter something that's unhealthy for it.

The reason they should not be fed is that otters already ingest so much food throughout the entire day, and this is already a major reason as to why they suffer from stomach and essential organ disorders.

This can result in a delayed and agonizing death. If you're dealing with a rescue, you may attempt scatter feeding, which uses these meals as enrichment throughout the day.

Snails, earthworms, insects, crayfish, mollusks, shellfish, grapes, raisins, apples, and eggs, whether raw or soft-cooked, can be utilized as a reward or as a medium for an otter that is on medication.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do otters eat then why not take a look at river otter vs sea otter, or otter facts.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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