'Otterly' Amazing Facts Explained: Can You Have An Otter As A Pet? | Kidadl


'Otterly' Amazing Facts Explained: Can You Have An Otter As A Pet?

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

It is no secret that otters are extremely cute animals and it is normal to want them as a pet, so you can play with them anytime you want!

Unfortunately, owning a pet otter is not as easy and wonderful as it sounds. Taking care of otters is a lot of work but acquiring them in the first place is even more difficult.

Otters are semiaquatic or aquatic mammals, depending on their species. They belong to the family of weasels that also consists of minks and badgers and the cute way they float on water and hold hands with each has led to them becoming the latest exotic pet trend. However, almost all 13 otter species are currently considered Endangered or Threatened. This is part of the reason why many governments of the world have banned owning otters as pets. Other reasons why an otter is not as good a companion animal as a dog or a cat, include the great care required to make an otter, which is a wild animal, adapt to life in a household or enclosure where they will be kept as pets. Otters are only kept in captivity by professionals for research, protection, or post-rescue operations, and they are not domesticated in these cases.

If you'd like to check out similar content, read our articles on are otters predators? And can you have a raccoon as a pet? Here at Kidadl!

States Where Pet Otters Are Legal

Owning a pet otter is considered illegal in several countries including the US, Japan, and the UK. However, some US states may allow you to own exotic pet species such as otters.

Only one species of otters is not considered federally illegal in the US, which is the Asian small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus). This species of otters have webbed feet and are the smallest otters out of all otter species. Some states that allow owning an Asian small-clawed otter are Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska, Michigan, and North Dakota. However, it is still recommended that anyone who wants a pet otter should check with their respective state governments as laws keep changing and otters may be protected under some law or the other. In any case, a permit is necessary to get ownership of pet otters. There are a few other requirements as well such as getting your enclosure checked by an officer. The kind of permits and requirements are sure to vary from state to state.

Are otters dangerous pets?

Although otters look very cute and harmless, they can be quite dangerous in certain cases. They can often get aggressive when they are stressed and if you choose to let them stay inside your house, your furniture will definitely be torn to shreds. For this to not happen, they need to be placed in a large enclosure that is suited to their needs and where they can find enrichment, and not get bored.

Otters are considered dangerous not only because they can get aggressive and destructive, but they can also easily spread diseases like salmonella to people who interact with them. If otters happen to bite you, the wound will probably be susceptible to bacterial infections and will need to be taken care of. Otters are also known to dislike dogs and other pets in general. They can get into fights and transmit salmonella to dogs as well.

Otters are famous for smearing their feces in their living space as a way to mark their smell. This poses a huge health risk to people caring for these animals as it can lead to a growth in parasites and other hygiene issues.

Habitat Of An Otter

One of the first steps to becoming the owner of a pet otter is to create the enclosure it would live in. This is a very tedious and expensive task but it is important to recreate the conditions of the natural habitat of an otter. The enclosure will need to have both land and water in it as a few hours in a paddling pool or a bathtub would not be enough for the animal.

All otter species are aquatic or semiaquatic animals, with the sea otter spending most of their time at sea and rarely coming to the land. Thus, all otters will need to have an ample amount of water, which will have to have regulated temperature and be regularly cleaned to be kept free of any dangerous bacteria.

Otters love to forage, so the other part of their enclosure will need to have trees with branches that they can climb and the right kind of soil to facilitate their burrow-making habits. The larger the enclosure it is, the better it will be. As wild animals, otters do not like to be sealed off in a small area and may try to escape if they do not find enough enrichment within their enclosure.

Problems With Pet Otters

Close up of Asian Short Clawed Otter.

The number of problems in trying to make a wild animal adapt to life as a pet in captivity largely outweighs the number of benefits. Otters are not as cuddly as they look and you are better off adopting a cat or a dog if you are looking for a companion who will get easily accustomed to being a pet and also be able to express its love.

Keeping an exotic pet, like an otter, as a pet is illegal in many countries. The few US state governments that do allow keeping a pet otter require a lot of paperwork and other requirements. Finding a veterinarian who can treat an exotic animal will also be a lot of work and quite expensive. The smell of otters' feces as well as the smell that comes from their scent glands are known to be very foul and will be very hard to get used to. They are also very loud and messy as they can start to make screeching noises and become destructive when they are stressed.

Caring For An Otter

Otters are wild animals and so, caring for them in a completely different environment comes with a lot of responsibilities. Providing them the proper food, living space, and enrichment is not just time-consuming, but also costs a lot of money.

Like humans, otters are social animals and live in the wild in groups. Thus, people usually need to get a pair of otters as a single otter will feel alone by itself. This means that their living space will need to be even larger, preferably an extra 72 sq yd (5 sq m) for every otter. Otters need a space with both land and water as they can ruin the furniture if kept inside. Their diet needs to consist of balanced fish, vegetables, eggs, and insects but most of their meals need to contain meat.

Thus, caring for pet otters takes a lot of time, energy, and money and the decision of becoming owners of these animals and making them adjust to captivity needs to be taken carefully.

Ethics Of Having A Pet Otter

The recent trend of keeping exotic animals as pets has given rise to a lot of problems. These animals are often smuggled from their natural habitats and sold in countries where their trade is not legal. This is still happening even after these animals are declared illegal to be kept as pets and given protection under bans and regulations. Some pet cafés in Japan, and other parts of Asia, are even known to keep exotic animals in cruel conditions.

Otters live happily in the wild, but they are often illegally brought into homes where they are not given enough enrichment, the proper food, or the right environment, which can be fatal. Many people even keep them in small cages that make them extremely stressed, which prevents them from getting the exercise that they need. Rescue groups also report frequently that people will abandon their exotic pets after not being able to take care of them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for can you have an otter as a pet? Then why not take a look at can you have a pet owl or otter facts?

Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?