Description: While exceedingly rare, the river otter is more at home in the water than on land. It has a long, elongated body, short legs and a long tail. It is deep brown in colour, and may be mistaken as a beaver when first seen swimming. They have thick fur that keeps them warm in the frigid mountain streams, and often come ashore to forage near the riverbank.
The river otter can be found throughout much of Canada, with its range extending south into the American Rockies.
Both males and females maintain separate ranges, with intense competition for breeding ranges.
Otters are skilled hunters. They may kill a beaver to take over its lodge, and feed on fish, small mammals, birds and amphibians and insects.
Man has severely reduced the populations of river otters through trapping for its luxuriant pelts.
River otter’s mate in early spring or late winter. Like other weasels, they experience delayed implantation and the fertilized egg will not develop for several months. While gestation may last 245-380 days, it actually takes only a few months for the actual kits to develop. The egg remains dormant within the uterus during the first several months.
Otters use dens, often that of an abandoned (or occasionally evicted) beaver. After giving birth to several (usually 2 or 3) kits, the male otter may join the female in caring for the young. The comical antics of otters have made them a popular animal for zoos and a favourite of nature programs.