[15], North American river otters consume an extensive assortment of fish species ranging in size from 2 to 50 centimeters (0.79 to 19.69 in) that impart sufficient caloric intake for a minute amount of energy expenditure. [15], Aquatic life ties North American river otters almost exclusively to permanent watersheds. They range through most of sub-Saharan Africa, except for the Congo River basin and arid areas, where they are replaced by the related Congo clawless otter (Aonyx congicus). [36] A study conducted on captive otters revealed they preferred larger fish, ranging from 15 to 17 centimeters (5.9 to 6.7 in), more than smaller fish, ranging from 8 to 10 centimeters (3.1 to 3.9 in), and they had difficulty catching fish species less than 10 centimeters (3.9 in) or larger than 17 centimeters (6.7 in). During walking, the limbs are moved in a plane parallel to the long axis of the body. Snowslides 12″ (300 mm) wide or wider, up to 25′ (7.5 m) long; often on flat ground, sometimes pitted with blurred prints where otter has given itself a push for momentum. [1], Lontra canadensis is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. ), and squawfishes (Ptychocheilus spp. [32][49] Susceptibility of these species is greatest during the summer (when waterfowl broods are vulnerable) and autumn. As such, careful consideration of any threatened, endangered, or fish species of special interest is warranted prior to reintroduction of otters to a watershed. These include mudminnows (Umbra limi) and sculpins (Cottus spp.). [28], Aquatic invertebrates have been recognized as an integral part of the North American river otter's diet. Reduced lobulation of the lungs is presumed to be adaptive for underwater swimming. A North American river otter's main requirements are a steady food supply and easy access to a body of water. North American river otter pelts are used as the standard for rating the quality of other pelts. Product ID: 151099813507640026Created on: 10/11/2012, 10:20 PM. The long heel left an imprint here, which does not always happen. In 2005, my wife and I worked as research technicians on a river otter project in Missouri. Identifying tracks also allows pest control experts to plan the correct removal method. Otter slides can be spotted in sand, grass, mud, and even snow. And because Sapelo only has a few humans and is relatively undeveloped, your chances of coming across otter tracks on one of the beaches there isn’t like winning a lottery. [45] In 2010, the Colorado Department of Wildlife reported the species, reintroduced in the 1980s, was "thriving" and recommended its protection status be reconsidered. Prey is captured with a quick lunge from ambush, or more rarely, after a sustained chase. By the early 1900s, North American river otter populations had declined throughout large portions of their historic range in North America. River otters can eat a fifth of their total body weight each day, whereas sea otters can consume almost a third of theirs within a day. Every couple of days, I check it for signs of 'action'. [25][32][33] Game fish, such as trout (Salmonidae) and pike (Esocidae), are not a significant component of their diets. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). [11], In a new classification, the species is called Lontra canadensis, where the genus Lontra includes all the New World river otters. [10], The North American river otter is a stocky animal of 5 to 14 kilograms (11 to 31 lb), with short legs, a muscular neck (no smaller than the head) and an elongated body that is broadest at the hips. The tail, which is stout and larger in surface area than the limbs, is used for stability while swimming and for short bursts of rapid propulsion. Daily movements of family groups averaged 4.7, 4.4, and 2.4 km (2.9, 2.7, and 1.5 mi) in spring, summer, and winter, respectively. Weaning occurs at 12 weeks, and females provide solid food for their progeny until 37–38 weeks have transpired. Likewise, the potential predatory impact of otters may be considerable whenever fish are physically confined (most commonly in smaller ponds offering sparse cover or other escape options). [15] Its vibrissae (whiskers) are long and thick, enhancing sensory perception underwater and on land. And search more of iStock's library of royalty-free vector art that features Animal graphics available for quick and easy download. ); darters (Etheostoma spp. Running stride is 12–24″ (300–600 mm). Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. The visible grooves that unite the toe digit impressions with the middle pad are not actual finger impressions like we see with raccoon tracks. Fur of the North American river otter is thick and lustrous and is the most durable of Native American furs. (Photo courtesy of Point Pelee National Park.) Droppings. Since their reintroduction to Kentucky in the early 90s, they have recovered to the point that a trapping season was started in 2006, and the species is now found in all major waterways. Suspected river otter tracks at DeLaurier Canal, 2019. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. Prints are about two to four inches wide, with five toes and claw marks. River otter tracks with a tape measure for scale. Photo: Paola Bouley. [9] Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, and Prince of Wales otter. Shop for the perfect river otter gift from our wide selection of designs, or create your own personalized gifts. They become much more nocturnal in the spring, summer, and fall seasons, and more diurnal during winter. The otters were seen in the river nearby. The photo at left shows where an otter stepped on top of a bobcat track. 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. 2) Slides. Wallows or rolling places: These occur along water edges, crossover places and marshes, and are recognized by an area where the grasses or dirt have been flattened and raked or scratched into several small, twisted piles. In the late 1970s, annual harvest in North America reached approximately 50,000 pelts, for a value of US$3 million. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. [15] Females may caterwaul during or shortly after mating. Tracks are usually at least 2cm wide (wider than your thumbprint). It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. River otter tracks next to a tape measure for scale. The North American river otters may compete with the American mink (Mustela vison) for resources. Starvation may occur due to excessive tooth damage. [58] Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction currently, but may become so unless trade is closely controlled. [52], Waterfowl, rails, and some colonial nesting birds are preyed upon by North American river otters in various areas. Flattened areas may be up to 2 meters (6.5 ft) wide. How cool is that?) North American river otters also inhabit the forested regions of the Pacific coast in North America. Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. The vulnerability and seasonal availability of prey animals mainly governs its food habits and prey choices. And search more of iStock's library of royalty-free vector art that features Animal graphics available for quick and easy download. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians (such as salamanders and frogs[3]), freshwater clams, mussels, snails, small turtles and crayfish. The care and feeding of the three otters is serious business, and staff work closely with Aquarium vets … [52][55], The North American river otter has few natural predators when in water. [18] An average adult male weighs about 11.3 kilograms (25 lb) against the female's average of 8.3 kilograms (18 lb). The maximum weight and length of both sexes are attained at three to four years of age. North American river otters only settle in areas that consist of vegetation, rock piles, and sufficient coverage. In addition, the length of the trachea of the North American river otter is intermediate between that of terrestrial carnivores and marine mammals. For gait, that translates into a “lope,” which is typical for an otter. [25] Other fish an integral part of the North American river otters' diets are those that are often plentiful and found in large schools: sunfish (Lepomis spp. North American river otters may be victims of canine distemper, rabies, respiratory tract disease, and urinary infection. river otter tracks in snow, photo enhanced StudyWorks! [15], North American river otters can produce a snarling growl or hissing bark when bothered, and a shrill whistle when in pain. Maybe it’s too fast. It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river… [25][34][36][49] Otters consume more aquatic insects in the summer as the populations increase and specific life stages heighten their susceptibility. [15] In the wild, they normally live about 8 to 9 years,[22] but are capable of living up to 13 years of age. River otter tracks next to a tape measure for scale. Riverbank slides 8″ (200 mm) wide, much wider with heavy use. [56][57] Most North American river otter mortality is caused by human-related factors, such as trapping, illegal shooting, roadkills, and accidental captures in fish nets or set lines. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Although they live in similar habitats, there are basic differences in their habits and appearance and knowing these basic differences will help in identifying the signs of mink present. [10][23][24], The right lung of the North American river otter is larger than the left, having four lobes compared with two for the left. This enhances an otter’s sensory abilities, enabling it to better feel and secure hidden prey within murky and muddy underwater habitats. [25] When left unchecked, though, otter depredations can be quite significant under certain circumstances (e.g. [32][36] Slow-moving species include suckers (Catostomidae), catfish, sunfish and bass (Centrarchidae), daces, carp, and shiners (Cyprinidae). This dilemma prevents, and consequently inhibits, recolonization or growth of North American river otter populations. Males are sexually mature at two years of age. Funny River Otter & Footprints, Tracks Neck Tie. In addition, riverine habitats in interior regions supported smaller, but practical, otter populations. [47] In Canada, North American river otters occupy all provinces and territories, except for Prince Edward Island. North American river otters are not scavengers; they avoid consuming carrion. Dave Hamilton . Home ranges of males are larger than those of females, and both sexes exhibit intra- and intersexual overlap of their domains. Running prints appear widely spaced due to the pests' loping gait. Reintroduction projects have expanded their distribution in recent years, especially in the Midwestern United States. [10], The North American river otter was first classified in the genus Lutra; Lutra was the early European name. Other Info. Irregular, sometimes short, rounded segments, sometimes flattened masses, containing fish bones, scales, or crayfish parts; when fresh, often greenish and slimy. The giant otter or giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal. [22], Like other otters, the North American river otter lives in a holt, or den, constructed in the burrows of other animals, or in natural hollows, such as under a log or in river banks. A set of four otter prints. [34] Fish remnants were found present in 91.9% of the scat samples. River otter tracks show five pointed toes around a small heel pad. river cute otter animals tracks footprints nature wildlife art wilderness. Then in June 2019, two Parks Canada team members were in a boat entering the channel to West Cranberry Pond in the park marsh when an otter swam very close to … Reintroduction of river otters may present a problem in that it may contaminate the genetic structure of the native population. Also found along the west coast of Scotland. Terrestrial predators include the bobcat (Lynx rufus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), coyote (Canis latrans), domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), wolf (Canis lupus), black bear (Ursus americanus) and (in young or small North American river otters) red fox (Vulpes vulpes) . The habits and methods of eating differ by species as well. It's rare to see a complete otter track like this unless the ground is very soft. Download this River Otter Footprints vector illustration now. From mid-winter through the breeding season, adult females move and den alone. A short, broad rostrum for exhaling and a long, broad cranium define the relatively flat skull. Female North American river otters give birth in these burrows, producing litters of one to six young. [1], Habitat degradation and pollution are major threats to their conservation; North American river otters are highly sensitive to pollution[citation needed] and readily accumulate high levels of mercury, organochloride compounds, and other chemical elements. The North American river otters may leave the den by eight weeks and are capable of sustaining themselves upon the arrival of fall, but they usually stay with their families, which sometimes include the father, until the following spring. Crustaceans may even be consumed more than fish. As a result, slow-swimming fish are consumed more often than game fishes when both are equally available. Aquatic predators include the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), and killer whale (Orcinus orca), none of which commonly coexist with the North American river otter and thus rarely pose a threat. When a river otter is moving fast, the hind feet are placed on top of the tracks of the front feet leaving a bounding track pattern of evenly spaced pairs of tracks. This webbing is unique to this piscivorous swimming mustelid. [37] Cases where they've been ambushed and consumed by grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus) have also been reportedly witnessed near the Arctic region. [27] During winter, the North American river otters heavily use openings in the ice, and may excavate passages in beaver dams for accessing open water. While current harvest strategies do not pose a threat to maintaining otter populations, harvest may limit expansion of otter populations in some areas. It can swim and maneuver better than many fish, and swims with only the top of its head out of the water. The inner toe is the smallest and is set further back in the track. North American river otters rely upon play to learn survival skills such as fighting and hunting. Note the line caused by the otter’s tail dragging on the snow. Fish are the primary component of the North American river otter's diet throughout the year. Prior to the arrival of the next litter, the North American river otter yearlings venture out in search of their own home ranges.[44]. Photo: Jared Duquette. In Wisconsin's streams, rivers, marshes, lakes, and ponds you may see a sleek, dark brown critter with a long, tapered, muscular body gliding just below the water's surface. The footprint on this large bowl is from a river otter found in the Adirondack Park located in northern New York State. North American river otters are very susceptible to the effects of environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers. Trails and Tracks When traveling on land river otters walk, run, or bound. your own Pins on Pinterest Revised Date: Dec 01, 2010. [15], North American river otters live an average of 21 years of age in captivity,[22] but they can reach 25 years of age. The back paws are slightly larger than the front. When the mothers have established their domains, they give birth to several kits. I've found a spot where there is a nice patch of soft mud along the edge of the river, which I keep flattening out as a 'footprint trap'. [28] Otters are known to take larger fish on land to eat, whereas smaller fish are consumed in the water. [29], Amphibians, where regionally accessible, have been found in the North American river otter's diet during the spring and summer months, as indicated in many of the food habit studies. 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