river otter

North American River Otter

Lontra canadensis

CLASS Mammalia | ORDER Carnivora | FAMILY Mustelidae

RANGE Alaska, Canada and the contiguous United States

HABITAT Streams, rivers, lakes and marshes

DIET Fish, frogs, crawfish, mollusks, other invertebrates, and small mammals

10 - 30 lbs.

Head to Tail
2.5 - 5 ft.

60 - 63 days

Avg. 2 - 3 pups

IUCN Status
Least Concern
river otter

River otters will body-sled down a muddy or snowy slope and plunge into the water with a belly-flop. Their playful behavior strengthens social bonds and practices hunting techniques.

river otter eating fish

Otters have an accelerated metabolism that gives them seemingly endless energy, but it also means that they must hunt and feed frequently. Their favorite food is fish, but they also eat frogs, crawfish, mollusks, other invertebrates, and small mammals.

river otter pup and mom

Otters deliver litters of 1 - 6 young. When the female is ready to give birth, she retreats to her underground den, which is usually near water. At birth, otter pups are born with their eyes closed and are completely dependent on their mother.

river otter under water

Although the North American river otter is not an endangered species, its population has been severely reduced or eliminated from much of its range. Otters face threats from water pollution and habitat destruction.