Species Spotlight: North American River Otter

North American River Otter at the Coxing Kill © David Johnson

Looks Like: The North American River Otter is 3–4 feet long and weighs in at 11 to 30 pounds. These otters have long whiskers and dark brown fur over much of their bodies with lighter brown fur on the face and belly.

Lives In: Despite their name, North American River Otters live in a variety of water habitats including ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and marshes.

Niche: These otters will prey on a variety of aquatic wildlife like fish, crayfish, frogs, birds and bird eggs, and turtles. Predators include bobcats, coyotes and raptors.

© Keenan Adams (USFWS)

Threats: Habitat destruction and water pollution is still a great risk for these otters. At Mohonk Preserve, a North American River Otter in the Coxing Kill is a great sign that the water is clean.

Frequency: Once common in the United States and Canada, North American River otters were hunted and trapped extensively for their fur in the 19th and 20th centuries, but populations are making a recovery.

© Josh More

Reproduction: North American River otters breed in early spring and give birth in litters of one to three pups.

Fun Fact: In water, otters can close their nostrils to keep water out while diving. On land, they can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour!

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