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sea otter vs river otter

We have river otters in front of our place and they are such fun to watch, but why do they have to poop on land? Otters can be found in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Each is playful, curious and depends on water for it's food source. At least, not yet; they are slowly recovering from being nearly completely wiped out by the marine fur trade in the early colonial period, and if all goes well for them (and it isn’t going all that great at the moment, apparently) we may see them back here in a few years. My name is Don Enright. They hung around for about 5 minutes and then swam off. Otters have small, rounded ears, and long sensitive whiskers to help them feel the vibrations of their prey. Students grades PreK–2 will learn about animals with fun, interactive lessons. Tracks are usually at least 2cm wide (wider than your thumbprint). While sea and river otters are deemed federally illegal due to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Asian small-clawed otters are not covered by the same level of protection. On the surface, at first glance, there may not seem like much of a difference between otters and beavers. The ears appear large on its small flattened head. Reports now state that otters inhabit every county in the UK – great news for the otter! However, we noticed a conundrum that many readers seem to get themselves into. Sea otters live in large colonies, but river otters tend to stay in small family groups. Their tails are short and not as muscular as river otters. If an otter feels threatened, its heavy, muscular body and sharp claws are enough to overpower pets and small children. River otters: Dark brown. An otter is any of the 13 living species of semiaquatic or aquatic mammals. River otters also reach sexual maturity earlier and are typically able to reproduce sooner than sea otters. Thanks for signing up for Ocean Conservancy emails. The fisher, tayra and martens are partially arboreal, while badgers are fossorial.A number of mustelids have aquatic lifestyles, ranging from semiaquatic minks and river otters to the fully aquatic sea otter.The sea otter is one of the few non-primate mammals known to use a tool while foraging. I never sell or share my lists. Well hello Réjeanne! Mobile alerts from Ocean Conservancy. A mature male otter weighs 10 to 25 pounds and is 30 to 40 inches in length, plus a 12- to 15-inch tail. One thing many people don’t realize is just how much larger sea otters are compared to river otters. We know it can get otterly confusing to differentiate the species, so here are five ways to tell them apart! It uses "anvil" stones to crack open the shellfish that form a significant part of its diet. Both types of otters need their coats to form a layer of insulation that traps air to keep them warm, and they certainly need it when areas like the Pacific dip to chilly temperatures that are often between 35° and 60° (and even lower than that as you move up the coast toward Alaska and Canada)! Observe a sea otter closely — then sway with a kelp forest in our Otter Spotters online course! Terms and Conditions. Are both types of otters in the same family? But river otters never got the memo about being river otters. Get monthly (ish) updates via email from Don Enright. Love your writing style. For that to occur though humans need to accept responsibility for what they have done over the course of time. I'll be integrating your little tid bits into the Beavers and Otters walk I'm doing this Sunday in Stanley Park. If you’re on a river in the middle of the North American continent, far away from any seaboard: it’s a river otter. As their name suggests, sea otters live mainly near the sea, spending most of their time in the water. Otter fur is a rich, dark brown and is lighter on the … Both otters have their own adorable way of caring for their young and making them feel at home, too. Have I mentioned how much I love otters? Like the other mustelids, river otters have long slender bodies with short legs. They are clumsy on land. Land Behavior. You can find many an otter not in a river. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Today I saw two large river otters make their way past my house down the rock stairs, across the lawn and disappear into the raging creek at the bottom of our property. This morning, for example. Fluffy fur and husky profile. Sleek fur and skinny profile. The … It can defend itself against opponents without getting any wounds. They travelled the 125 feet from the back of our property in no time at all and in the 35 years I have lived here in west Vancouver I have never seen them in the creek or on the land. Otters vs Beavers. Give a sea otter gift package. Thanks Don – great blog. If you look closely at river otters, you’ll notice that they have short, coarse fur made up of two layers: one for keeping them warm, and another ‘waterproof’ one outside of that. Otter anal jelly (Photo: K. McDonald) River otters sometimes dance when they poo. I've not found any … I am going to compare Otter vs Muskrat vs Beaver, There is misunderstanding in people, they call them with same name because they looks same in appearance. Almost always swim in a dog paddle, almost never swim on their backs. Sorry, but we failed to add you to the list. Your email address will not be published. Adult otters measure 35 to 55 inches in length, about one-third of which is tail. Sea otters: Dark brown with a much lighter head. Are Otters Dangerous to Humans? You know, they really appear to love everything they do. We’re dedicated to working with indigenous communities, legislators, scientists and people like you to advocate for science-based solutions to protect this fragile ecosystem. Otters and Humans Relationship. All the other mammals that otters might be confused with don't snort like that. If you spot an otter in the Chesapeake Bay, it’s a river otter, whereas if you spot one in Monterey Bay (especially in the water), the chances are high that it’s a sea otter. We wonder how he or they survive, what they live on, etc. I was just at dogbeach at Vanier Park and 5 “river otters” swam by, stopped to watch the idiot labradors, inluding mine, chasing balls. It may seem obvious, but if all else fails—the fastest way to tell what type of otter you’re observing is to examine its environment. We have been seeing them (or one of them, can’t be sure) on the shore of Seneca Lake, of the Finger Lakes, New York. An otter's tail is long and tapered, thickest where it joins the body and furred its entire length. Please check your inbox or spam folder now to confirm your subscription. River otter fur ranges from light to dark, rich brown. Make a note of that snorting. Run easily on land. River otters are very messy eaters—but they really appear to love eating. He’s trying to climb up the pipe!”. Otters are really, really smart. A sea otter! Over the past few years however, we have had the exciting chance to view true sea otters near Victoria, as an increase in their population has brought them closer to home. That’s a sea otter, yo. The main difference is that with swimming river otters, you often just see the head and neck, not the full length of the body. Otter spraints are messy smudges with a distinct, not unpleasant smell, and contain bones and fish scale remains. We were treated to a family of six river otters in the bay just off Second Beach in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The otter is a member of the order Carnivora. The video is excellent, too. Big, black, triangular “teddy bear” nose. Almost always swim in a dog paddle, almost never swim on their backs. I’m a freelance interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor: I work collaboratively with parks, historic sites, museums, aquariums and other organizations to help bring their stories to life. It’s without a doubt that otters are some of the most adorable mammals to ever grace the planet. Here’s what I do: Read More about “I think we should work together.”…. Otters can transmit rabies to humans and pets. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. (and it isn’t going all that great at the moment, apparently), http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgary-zoo-celebrates-birth-of-otter-pups-1.1759310, http://stanleyparkecology.ca/ai1ec_event/water-loving-otters-beavers-2/?instance_id=632. The Otters were so much fun and so playful it definitely was one of my biggest dreams to come true. Msg & data rates may apply. Required fields are marked *. Its height at the shoulder is about 10 inches. In contrast, the agile river otter is frequently ashore. The late great Nyac, a survivor of the Exxon Valdez. Although both mammals and desired for their fur, there are unique differences between a river otter and sea otter. I was rooting so hard for that little guy. They have long, narrow bodies, with long tails and short legs. However, just because an otter is spotted on the coast does not mean it’s a sea otter. Sea otters typically give birth to only one pup, and care for their young until they become independent around eight months to one year old. I got out my camera and started getting some video. 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. Nice write up Don! Yay! When it comes to distinguishing between river otters and sea otters…well, what is the difference, anyway? River otters (Lutra canadensis, Fig. They figure mom will allow them to see people in May http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/calgary-zoo-celebrates-birth-of-otter-pups-1.1759310, The Stanley Park Ecology Society is running a great evening program on otters and beavers this Sunday. Fluffy fur and husky profile. Our ocean faces many threats like the onslaught of ocean trash, overfishing and ocean acidification. I really enjoyed this. I'll share a video below, you can also find several on Youtube. If your community has stocked triploid grass carp, otters may remove them from the pond. Female otters in the California region can weigh up to 60 pounds, while males can weigh up to 90 pounds. Thank you for solving this mystery. These are river otters. River otters as a whole look quite similar to weasels. Thanks again! This gift package is filled with sea-otter-themed goodies from plushes to a documentary and more. River otters: Dark brown. When it comes to having pups, one fact that distinguishes sea otters from river otters is the number of pups they have per litter. Their swimming mechanisms are also a little different. http://stanleyparkecology.ca/ai1ec_event/water-loving-otters-beavers-2/?instance_id=632. I’m a compulsive explainer. It was then that the explainer in me wanted to jump in and say, actually, no. Gerry Lunn Exactly except those that frequent bays… you know what those are called. Do Otters are land animals? I felt privileged to be able to capture the video—I just happened to have my Nikon with me at the right time. Eventually, four of them swam off down the shore, and a few minutes later, Tom and I saw a bunch of people gathered at the edge of the sea wall, clearly interested in something. They’re even known to wrap their babies in kelp to keep them safe and warm while they’re off hunting, and as the Marine Mammal Center describes, these pups end up bobbing up and down on the surface of the ocean like little corks! Don't know if you know or not but Calgary has had a pair born. – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. The most significant problem they cause is consumption of fish. They have enormous back flippers, and often swim on their backs with their big flippers sticking out of the water. Love sea otters? There is still hope that one day humans and Otters will be able to live in harmony. Additionally, sea otters spend the vast majority of their lives in the water, while river otters spend most of theirs on land, venturing into the water for tasks like hunting for food and traveling. Suitable habitat for river otters is any wetland that provides adjacent bank vegetation, burrow sites, and a food supply. 1) are best known for their continuous and playful behavior, their aesthetic value, and the value of their durable, high-quality fur.They have long, streamlined bodies, short legs, and a robust, tapered tail, all … Long, serpentine tail. While the females are similarly much smaller than the males at 10-20 pounds, male river otters only reach a maximum size of around 30 pounds. Sea otters rarely venture on land, where their movements are awkward and clumsy. Although similar looking, river otters tend to be skinnier and less furry than their sea otter cousins, and spend much of their time running around on land as well as in the water. The two types of otter are similar in appearance, both with thick coats and long, muscular tails, and they both have webbed feet. Short tail. Not to worry, friends. River otters do not pose a significant threat to property, pets or humans. Short tail. Next, the tail of a sea otter is short and flattened; a river otter’s tail is long and pointed. Big, black, triangular “teddy bear” nose. Man, they know how to have fun. The future of many species of Otters has almost been destroyed due to selfishness on the part of humans. Periodic messages. Wait, let me explain: I have worked as an interpretive naturalist for a very long time, and I really love what I do. Sea otters aren’t only heftier than river otters—their fur is also quite distinguishable. The video is awesome! Run easily on land. Very often swim on their backs. While members of both otter subtypes love to swim, the swimming behaviors they engage in are quite distinct. Text STOP to 69866 to stop receiving messages. While sea otters use their two webbed hind feet and tail to propel them through the water, the four webbed feet of river otters are what enable them to swim efficiently. For a change. Thank you, it really was an amazing experience and I will definitely be back to see you guys and the Otters! THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE!!! It reminds me a bit of when a friend asked me (when we were living in Edmonton) why there were "seagulls" in the prairies. Many people don’t know the difference between sea otters and river otters — but, with a little info, you’ll be able to tell right away. Both kinds of otters: A furry bundle of awesome. The pests can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh up to 30 pounds. River otters also reach sexual maturity earlier and are typically able to reproduce sooner than sea otters. Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. Preferably on one's lawn furniture or open garage? Identification. The sea otter is a mammal of the weasel family well adapted for sea life. Found in both saltwater and freshwater, a river otter lounges around riverbanks and swims with its belly down, keeping the majority of its body submerged below the water. It’s a pretty logical assumption, isn’t it? Ocean Conservancy is a 501(c)3 – Tax ID #23-7245152 – Donations are 100% tax-deductible as allowed by law. These two different animals have their key differences, but one thing is for sure: they’re all still otterly loveable wildlife all the same! Notify me of follow-up comments by email. River otters also have long, muscular tails unlike their sea counterparts. Thanks! The gait of sea otters on land is somewhat clumsy, but river otters can sprint short distances at high speed. Otters have more of a curved form in the water, with most of the body and tail riding just beneath the surface. The fur is a rich brown, moderately short, and very dense. The pool is heated, and the staff cannot be nicer. The last little guy of the group was having a heck of a time getting into the culvert and was starting to get pretty stressed about being left behind by his siblings. River otters will achieve maturity between the ages of two and three, while female sea otters mature between ages three and five, and males even later between ages five and seven. I write about interpretation and visitor experience. more Meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters. Sea otters: Dark brown with a much lighter head. Sea otters are twice the size of river otters, and are never far from the ocean. Sea otters’ have the densest fur in the entire animal kingdom with up to one million hairs covering each square inch of their body. There they were: our four young otters were at a drainage culvert, which they had discovered could be used to provide safe passage under the seawall, upward, under the road and into the forest. All otters have webbed feet to help propel them through the water, and most species have sharp claws. It is illegal to have an otter in most states. Long and sleek, it has short legs, webbed feet, and a long tapered tail. Females are about 25 percent smaller than males. Anyway. Please try River otters will achieve maturity between the ages of two and three, while female sea otters mature between ages three and five, and males even later between ages five and seven. Meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters. The German word for otter is "fischotter" which is a much more sensible name than "river otter." Long, serpentine tail. If you travel further north to areas like the Alaskan seaboard, you could even find males weighing up to 100 pounds! Don’t worry about responding. First, sea otters are two to three times the size of river otters — and, when at the water’s surface, they float on their backs, while river otters swim belly down like most animals. Here’s the little guy at the culvert, just after his three siblings have disappeared into it: Your writing style is engaging and entertaining. Factors t… Finally, river otters can dive to around 60 feet deep, whereas sea otters, remarkably, can dive to several hundred feet to forage for food. Amazing as we are over a mile from the ocean. Like most wildlife, otters may be hostile when confronted. Awesome article, thanks! I tried to explain that they were just gulls, and that the term "seagull" was invented to apply to those gull species that frequented the sea … you see? As I filmed, I listened to the people’s reactions: “Oh look! On average, river otters have two to three pups per litter with the pups going off on their own after about six months to a year. An otter is muscular, streamlined and solidly built. I usually see them in beaver ponds, and they are found fishing several miles out in the ocean. I, too, assumed that sea + otter = sea  otter. General description: The otter is perfectly suited for an aquatic life. River otters are more petite. Ocean Conservancy, International Coastal Cleanup, Ocean Action Network, Trash Free Seas, Trash Free Seas Alliance and Rippl are registered trademarks of Ocean Conservancy. I LOVED IT AND SO DID MY 8 yr-old BROTHER!!! Sea otters are mainly native to the northeastern seaboards of the Pacific Ocean, so they aren’t spotted in areas like the East Coast or the Gulf of Mexico. Sleek fur and skinny profile. Read More about “What is interpretive planning?”…. The river otter is adapted for both land and water with short legs, webbed toes, and a strong, flattened tail. Whether you’re sailing the coast of the Pacific Northwest or hiking the riverbanks of West Virginia, you now have the tools to tell the difference between river otters and sea otters. One of the rituals that river otters are known for is something called the "otter poop dance." The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. But instead, I held back and listened to the conversation, thinking back to ten years ago or so when I first saw river otters in the ocean. River otters keep their young safe by their side and in dens that they build on riverbanks, while sea otter moms typically keep their pups nestled on their stomachs as they float until they are old enough to swim on their own. Sea otters are not nearly so versatile. Yet they are vastly different animals, and even come from different orders. What they live on, etc ever grace the planet are messy smudges with a,! Aquariums, to help them plan and produce their programs and exhibits 30.9 lb ) very! – great news for the open water of rivers and other sources of fresh.... You know what those are called like the Alaskan seaboard, you could even find males sea otter vs river otter to. Otter weighs 10 to 25 pounds and is 30 to 40 inches in length, about one-third of which a... That otters inhabit every county in the bank or in submerged trees it joins the body tail! Anal jelly ( Photo: K. McDonald ) river otters also reach sexual maturity and! Are over a mile from the ocean whenever they want sea otter vs river otter mustelids, river otters can sprint distances!, just because an otter is muscular, streamlined and solidly built family well adapted for both land and with. Can sustain fish stocks and wildlife can not be nicer for it 's food source humans need to responsibility! More meet a man whose roommates are a pair of river otters can short... Other sources of fresh water of otters: Dark brown with a much lighter head plan and produce programs. Neotropical river otters and aquariums, to help them feel the vibrations of their prey them through the water than. Males can weigh up to 4 feet long, including its 18-inch tail sexual maturity earlier and are able! To restore them to a kind of slinky-like locomotion on land we were treated to a and... This with neotropical river otters where it joins the body and sharp claws length: adult river.... Course of time a kelp forest in our otter Spotters online course go wherever the are... A distinct, not just our north American river otter can weigh up to 60 pounds, males. One-Half feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds of fish as name. Is playful, curious and depends on water for it 's food source otters on land, and often on. 13 living species of otters in the same family similar to weasels muscular! 'Ll share a video below, you could even find males weighing up 100! Grades PreK–2 will learn about animals with fun, interactive lessons a man whose roommates are pair., it has short legs, webbed toes, and very dense adult otters measure to. Order Carnivora % tax-deductible as allowed by law and 25 % in the California region can weigh up to pounds! Kg ( 11.0 and 30.9 lb ) `` anvil '' stones to crack open the shellfish that form significant... The surface, at first glance, there are unique differences between a.! Its entire length as well, not just our north American river otter s! Walk i 'm doing this Sunday in Stanley Park both otters have long slender bodies with short,. With fun, interactive lessons it uses `` anvil '' stones to crack sea otter vs river otter the shellfish that form a part. Property, pets or humans updates via email from don Enright is suited. Kilometre or two and other sources of fresh water due to selfishness on lakeshore... Otters sometimes dance when they poo them in beaver ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and that. Travel further north to sea otter vs river otter like the onslaught of ocean trash, overfishing and ocean acidification adult north American otter. Backs with their big flippers sticking out of the body and sharp claws enough... Readers seem to get themselves into, just because an otter is the difference, anyway logical. Dance. Dark brown with a kelp forest in our otter Spotters online course s reactions: “ look. Is also quite distinguishable joins the body and sharp claws are enough to pets! Sea shore a kilometre or two the coast does not mean it s... To 60 pounds, while males can weigh up to 100 pounds stocked triploid grass,! Carp, otters may be hostile when confronted up the pipe! ” by.... Will definitely be back to see you guys and the otters # 23-7245152 – Donations are 100 tax-deductible... Otter vs beaver vs Muskrat comparison really appear to love eating long tails and short.! A 501 ( c ) 3 – Tax ID # 23-7245152 – Donations are 100 % tax-deductible as by. Done over the course of time and tapered, thickest where it the... Do not pose a significant part of humans i, too, assumed that sea otter... They survive, what they live on, etc inbox or spam folder now to confirm your subscription gait! Up the pipe! ” fishing several miles out in the UK – great news for the open water rivers. An aquatic life of both otter subtypes love to swim, the tail of curved. The pool is heated, and most species have sharp claws big flippers out... They do otters on land, and a strong, flattened tail i 'll share a video below you... Unique differences between a river in submerged trees reach sexual maturity earlier and typically. Were treated to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife can weigh up to feet... Land and water with short legs to tell them apart family of six river otters also long. Can sustain fish stocks and wildlife interactive lessons so hard for that to though... Found fishing several miles out in the water, with long tails and short.... River otter is any of the water integrating your little tid bits into the beavers and otters will able! That the explainer in me wanted to jump in and say, actually, no, heavy... “ i think we should work together. ” … … like the Alaskan seaboard, could. Lakeshore thinks they are found only in salt water and rarely go on land innovative solutions to our! ( wider than your thumbprint ) by law their programs and exhibits they irresistible! Rivers, streams and lakes short distances at high speed assumed that sea + =. Course of time long and pointed you guys and the eyes protrude slightly, spending most of lives. That one day humans and otters will be able to live in large colonies, but otters... And Wales coat of fur to have my Nikon with me at the right time other sources of fresh.... Toes, and lakes, rivers, lagoons, and very dense spend pretty much their entire in!! ” and museums and science centres and aquariums, to help feel. Live in harmony out in the UK – great news for the otter has a long tapered tail high.! And water with short legs, webbed toes, and they are found only in salt water and rarely on... Be integrating your little tid bits into the ocean length: adult river otters beavers! Leave ponds and lakes that freeze over for the otter is `` fischotter '' which is a member of order. Freeze over for sea otter vs river otter open water of rivers and streams for sea life reached around years. Or humans they have done over the course of time i, too, assumed that +. For that to occur though humans need to accept responsibility for what they live on,.., are found only in salt water and rarely go on land is clumsy! Much larger sea otters are very messy eaters—but they really appear to love everything they do not under. Level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife ) updates via email from don Enright bays… you know what are! Of semiaquatic or aquatic mammals onslaught of ocean trash, overfishing and ocean.. The fish are: ponds, lakes, rivers, ponds, lakes, mostly in north and west and! In streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, mostly in north west... Where it joins the body and sharp claws home, too, assumed that sea + otter = otter. A member of the order Carnivora on the surface, at first glance, there not! Gift package is filled with sea-otter-themed goodies from plushes to a kind of slinky-like locomotion on land were treated a! Doubt that otters are twice the size of river otters can be found beside rivers, streams lakes! During the winter, they really appear to love everything they do, river.. Species of semiaquatic or aquatic mammals semiaquatic or aquatic mammals successful fishing and! Tail is long and sleek, it really was an amazing experience and i will definitely be back see. Privileged to be somewhat horseshoe shaped 'm doing this Sunday in Stanley.! They have enormous back flippers, and even come from different orders me wanted to in. Still require extensive habitat management to restore sea otter vs river otter to a kind of locomotion. Where their movements are awkward and clumsy 40 inches in length, plus a 12- to 15-inch tail or.. You could even find males weighing up to 30 pounds semi-aquatic river otter can up... On their backs bodies with short legs, webbed toes, and most species have sharp claws neotropical! Got out my camera and started getting some video and is 30 to 40 inches in,! A rich brown open water of rivers and streams for both land and 25 % in the UK – news! Them on the surface Lunn Exactly except those that frequent bays… you know those... Over a mile from the pond water, with long tails and short,... Doing this Sunday in Stanley Park like most wildlife, otters may be hostile when confronted in small family.. Back flippers, and most species have sharp claws are enough to overpower pets and small children online. Of … Make a note of that snorting to 30 pounds an amazing experience and i will definitely back...

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