North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) are an important part of the watershed ecosystem! They grow to one meter (3 to 4 ft) in length and weigh from five to 15 kilograms (10 to 30 lb). 3. North American river otters are known for their playful swimming, but they are also an important species for helping scientists understand the health of river systems. Photograph by Michael Quinton / Minden Pictures This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. The North American River Otter is considered to be Least Concern as it is not currently declining at a rate sufficient for a threat category. This species used to be known as Amblonyx cinereus, and before that as Aonyx cinerea. Keystone species often dominate the attention of ecologists and policy-makers, who develop specific strategies for their protection, while media repeatedly report on their conservation status. Legal protection: No formal protection. River otters eat a variety of fish and shellfish, as well as small land mammals and birds. According to the mammal species of the world scientific publication, this family is made up by three subfamilies with 22 genera and has 57 living species. The North American river otter is a large otter whose story is a success. Fun Facts. By the early 1900s, river otters had declined throughout large portions of their historic range in North America. By the 1950s its numbers were greatly reduced due to trapping and pollution, but after a long campaign to clean the waterways, trapping management and reintroductions in states in which it no longer occurred, this species now thrives throughout the USA and Canada. River otters are able to hold their breath underwater for up to eight minutes. River otters can hold their breath underwater for up to 5 minutes. North American River Otters. This animal’s lovely waterproof pelt, which allows it to regulate its temperature, in the 1700s-1800s, a regular part of French fur trade, has meant this animal has been hunted for hundreds of years. Other nonscientific names include Nearctic River Otter, Northern River Otter, Canadian Otter, Land Otter, and Fish Otter. Even with the risk of predation from larger species such as the American alligator, bobcats and coyotes, the greatest threat to river otters are from humans and include habitat destruction, fragmentation and pollution. All otters are declining due to habitat loss. Last, but not least, North American river otters are considered a keystone species, which means other species in the same habitat largely depend on the existence of river otters. By sharing research and knowledge, participating institutions work together to establish guidelines that best ensure the health of captive populations, and with success, the survival of otherwise extinct species. The North American river otter occurs in much of Canada and the United States, except for portions of the Southwest, and in Mexico in the Rio Grande and Colorado River delta areas. It is seen sliding down mud and snow inclines for the sheer delight of it. See Gap Analysis Project Species Range Maps for more … Almonte, C. “Classification of Captive North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) Vocal Repertoires: Individual Variations, and Age Class Comparisons.” Animal Behavior and Cognition. They are the least aquatic of all the otters. PIERRE, S.D. The playful river otter, common in lakes and streams throughout the United States and Canada, enjoys its new freedom. Worldwide, there are 13 species of otters that can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The otter has a long cylindrical body with a powerful tail, making it ideal for life in the water. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Boomer, a North American river otter, was born in January 2018 and was transferred to CMA on October 15, 2018, from another animal care facility. In the 1800s, otters swam in waterways across North America until fur-trappers hunting for pelts nearly obliterated the species. American River Otter Wildlife Profiles—North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Q&A 1. River Otter (Lutra canadensis) Description The otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) found in South Carolina. The North American river otter is a species of otter in the family Mustelidae. Zoo New England participates in the North American river otter Species Survival Plan. Threats: Destruction of habitat. Mexico. The North American River Otter is very streamlined, having a muscular body with short legs, webbed toes and a long muscular tail. Its fur ranges in color from white and gray to brown and black. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Baby otters are called cubs, pups or kits. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. DNA work by Koepfli & Wayne (1998 & 2003) indicated that the Asian small-clawed otter is a sister species to the African clawless and Congo clawless otters. What caused the decline of river otter populations in the early 1900s? During the winter the otter could only fish through small ice holes. NARRATOR: As spring begins, snow and ice melt into flowing streams. This range map was created by attributing sub-watershed polygons with information of a species' presence, origin, seasonal and reproductive use. As an indicator species, their presence illustrates a healthy ecosystem. North American river otters are the only river otter that is found north of Mexico. Yes. River otter populations declined significantly throughout the late 1800s due to over-harvesting and water pollution. This species does not hibernate and remains active under frozen water by breathing through breaks in the ice. They have delayed implantation of the embryo in the uterus which makes the gestation period appear very long, ranging from 9-12 months; this delayed implantation is rare in otters although it is common in the mustelid family as a whole. Otters are carnivorous mustelids in the Lutrinae subfamily. Hand in paw with otters. They are a top predator and their presence also reflects the health of the ecosystem around them. Unregulated over-trapping for fur and meat. A North American river otter is capable of breeding once it reaches about two years of age. As top predators, they consume many other animals, from insects and crayfish to rodents and birds. There are 13 extant species of otter around the world, one of which is native to the UK. Neotropical Otter occurs in all major rivers along the east of the country and patchy areas along the northern coast. 2. 1 (2014): 502-517. In turn, so does the number of otters. It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. Species: Neotropical Otter. (KELO) — North American river otters won’t be on South Dakota’s list of threatened species any longer, the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission decided Thursday. Boomer came to CMA to be a social partner for Walle, a rescued and non-releasable otter, who was residing by himself at that time. Does the otter ever seem to just have fun? North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) are members of the weasel family.They are a semi-aquatic mammal. This species reportedly has 28 common names in North America. River Otters Playing; Sources. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) became one of the major animals hunted and trapped for fur in North America after European contact. The North American river otter is a member of the mustelid or weasel family that can be easily identified by a stout body, short legs, noticeably tapered tail and dense, short, glossy fur. Find river otters, and you will find healthy streams and rivers. The American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is one example of a keystone species in North America. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Species: Neotropical, North American River Otter and Sea Otter. Adult otters measure 35 to 55 inches in length, about one-third of which is tail. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family.While it may simply be called the "river otter" in North America (to distinguish it from the sea otter) there are other river otter species throughout the world. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. As the health of a stream, river or the Bay changes, so does the amount of the otters’ prey. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. This dataset represents a species known range extent for North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) within the conterminous United States (CONUS) based on 2001 ground conditions. Adults were river otters ≥ 2 years old and subadults were river otters < 2 years old. Like other otter species, the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) has a long, sinuous, streamlined body, highly modified for aquatic life.The limbs are short and powerful, the clawed paws are fully-webbed, and the flattish head terminates in a broad muzzle equipped with numerous sensitive whickers used for detecting prey underwater. A new study from North Carolina State University detected evidence of otter diseases that may be spread by pets. The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. 12 important examples of keystone species. Summary 6 The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts.An adult river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 31 lb). 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