river otter adaptations

The river otter is listed as a Sensitive Species by the USFS throughout Region 2, as state threatened by the states of Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota, and protected under state laws in all states within Region 2. Come with us on an unforgettable journey behind the scenes during a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens Camp. That body type, with its high surface area to volume ratio, does not retain heat well, and poor heat retention is a liability in winter. However, that streamlined physique is also an asset: it lends efficiency to aquatic hunting. Although giant otters are losing the battle in human conflict, they have evolved amazing adaptations to help them survive nature's challenges in the wild. Today the river otter status is vulnerable. (Lontra longicaudis)These otters have an elongated and robust cylindrical body, similar to the rest of otters.Their fur is dense and short, with brown hues in the dorsal area and lighter ones on the sides and ventral area.Their head is round and flattened with small ears, and their eyes are … River otters as a whole look quite similar to weasels. For example, the otter’s ability to live singly or in groups may have evolved because it allows the animal to to better exploit food resources in general, and it just happens to boost winter survival in cold climates. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is … These otters swim by propelling themselves with their powerful tails and flexing their long bodies. (Have you read Bob Arnebeck’s online post entitled: “Otters Breaching Beaver Dams?” He cites Reid, Herrero, and Code, too, plus adds his own interesting observations. This one was taken with a Browning Spec Ops Advantage, which I love. Minute spaces between the hairs trap air effectively. Find a variety of free classroom activities that will keep your students engaged and excited to learn about animals. The species prefers freshwater rivers and streams, which are usually seasonally flooded, and may also take to freshwater lakes and springs. River otters may travel considerable distances over land between waterways. They travel over snow and ice using a combination of running and sliding. Located in the Rocky Mountain Trench, this area features extensive wetlands that are perfect for river … Otters continually groom themselves to maintain a layer of trapped air. Thank you for these wonderfully informative and entertaining efforts. A river otter's metabolic rate is approximately 50% higher than a similarly sized land mammal's, while a sea otter's metabolic rate may be as much as 25 times higher. Sea otters usually remain submerged for 52 to 90 seconds; the longest recorded dive was 4 minutes, 25 seconds. Young stay with their mother through their first winter. River Otter Facts – Facts about River Otters Summary River otters are playful creatures found throughout aquatic habitats in North America. This isn’t too surprising when you consider the fact that the otter needs to spend a considerable amount of time in water to find food. Like sea otters, river otters also display thickest furs that ensure a limited heat loss. Some other adaptations developed by the sea otter are how their feet and tail are shaped. This was a very interesting !I enjoyed learning through both venues, the video and written article. A behavioral adaptation is something the animal does to … Physiological adaptations are internal body processes that make an animal better suited to certain environmental challenges. A chunkier body would allow the otter to better retain heat but would also reduce its agility in water and therefore its hunting efficiency. Yes, I read his post a while back, but should reread it, because I forget what his own observations were. North American river otters are playful furballs that live near ponds, streams, lakes and rivers. 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. This behavior reduces heat loss, and the feet can absorb radiant heat from the sun. Like many other mammals, otters make use of sheltered spaces to keep warm. Sea otters are quite awkward on land, and spend the majority of their lives in the water. The deepest confirmed dive for a sea otter was 97 m (318 ft.). River Otters as Agents of Water Loss From Beaver Dams, Camera Trapping Bats with an Acoustic Trigger, Building a DSLR Camera Trap: Part 1 – Design Elements, Davis, R. D. “Metabolism and Thermoregulation.” In, Reid, D. G., S. M. Herrero and T. E. Code. They have long, narrow bodies, with long tails and short legs. What camera did you use, haven’t gonna one,yet. Space under logs or roots or in dense vegetation are sometimes used, as are abandoned burrows of woodchucks or other animals. Sea otters can reach speeds of 1.5 kph (0.9 mph) on the surface and 9 kph (5.6 mph) under water. JAVASCRIPT IS DISABLED. A 3-4 week clerkship for veterinary students wanting to augment their knowledge and experience in non-domestic animal medicine. Their long, agile bodies enable them to quickly twist, turn, roll and dive, and they are frequently seen sliding into the water or burrowing in the mud. Neotropical River Otters or River Wolves. River otters have long, stiff and highly sensitive facial whiskers that aid in locating and capturing prey. My pleasure. Objectives Students will be able to: • List at least 3 otter body parts that make this animal well-adapted to its aquatic habitat. Going to imagine being an otter today. River otters have an amazing physiological adaptation that may help their young to survive. For rapid swimming and for diving, they swim similarly to other otters, using up-and-down undulations of the body. Take a closer look at these encyclopedia books including information about animal habitats, behavior, and scientific classification. Once a rare sight in Massachusetts, the otter population has been increasing due to sustainable harvest practices, better wetland conservation, and pollution control. Thanks! River otters can remain under water for 6 to 8 minutes. River Otter Adaptations Concepts Animals have body parts suited for their lifestyle and habitat. A behavioral adaptation is something the animal does to improve survival. They will use dens made by beavers, muskrats, or woodchucks. River otters belong to the weasel family. Think about what you’ve seen while tracking otters, imagine what it’s like to be one in winter, and see what ideas pop into your head. All otters have webbed feet to help propel them through the water, and most species have sharp claws. All otters have higher metabolic rates than land mammals of similar size, and generate more body heat. Taken with tigers? This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. These animals do not wait out the cold months in hibernation. Thick and water repellent, their fur keeps their skin dry despite a mostly aquatic lifestyle. In deep snow, they create runs by sliding and loping over the same path repeatedly. Finally, otters save energy in winter by sliding on ice and snow in an efficient movement pattern that looks much like swimming. As a result, babies are usually born in March in cold climates. The small litter size, along with the fairly late maturity, results in a lo… An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). This post was kind of my practice for that outing – for thinking about each species’ winter adaptations. Learn more about the Seasonal Camp Counselor program at SeaWorld. In southern Chile the marine otter is found almost exclusively along exposed rocky seashores; farther north it may inhabit estuaries and fresh water. What allows them to thrive in cold, snowy conditions? The River Otter's Adaptation to the Environment Physical Adaptations. The increasing beaver population has also created habitat for otters. At SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, we extend our commitment to the environment beyond our company by supporting a variety of conservation groups and programs. For sea otters, maintaining a constant body temperature is particularly challenging. Sharing a den with her helps them keep warm, hunting with her helps them meet the increased caloric demands of maintaining body temperature in a cold environment, and mutual grooming helps them keep those dense, warm coats in good condition. The river otter, the largest member of the weasel family, is found throughout the United States and Canada, wherever there is clear water and abundant food. Hunting opportunities may be diminished after freeze up, but otters have ways of dealing with this. What are the anatomic, behavioral, and physiological adaptations that allow North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) to thrive in the cold? Habitat and Diet: River otters live in aquatic habitats -- streams, rivers, lakes, and freshwater and saltwater marshes. The river is a natural choice for the active mammals to live. The people of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment are truly and deeply driven to inspire on behalf of, to celebrate and connect with, and to care for the natural world we all share. Swimming and Diving. Freshwater otters "dog paddle" with all four feet when swimming slowly or floating. It’s probably for these reasons that the otter depends on a thick, waterproof coat and excellent hunting ability instead of a layer of blubber to keep warm. The otter needs to be slender and streamlined enough to hunt successfully but not so slender that the animal cannot get enough calories to keep warm. Researchers have observed giant otters swimming at speeds up to 14.4 kph (9 mph). The cuticle of each hair is scaly and ratchet-like. Encouraged me to think more about winter adaptations of other creatures. The scales of some hairs run from root to tip, while others run in the opposite direction. But they are also wonderfully adapted to diving, and the River Otter automatically closes his nostrils when he dives. This ensures that a female will not be burdened with young offspring during winter. Northern River Otters are born with many innate behaviors. Perhaps she will correct me if I did.). If a sea otter is too cold good eyesight. Their most noticeable ability is swimming. Sea otters may have a countercurrent heat exchange system. They seek streams and rivers where water does not freeze, and in ponds where water does freeze, they maintain holes in ice. I’m glad you found it useful. Browse our extensive collection of zoological career infobooks including animal training, animal rescue and rehabilitation and zoo careers. Below is an example of otter slides in Minnesota. A recent trail camera video I captured at an otter latrine got me to thinking about river otter winter adaptations. It has adaptations such as, the guard hairs to keep it from freezing and using permeable scent glands to mark territory, identify or for defense kind of like a skunk. And, if the mother is struggling, the embryos may never implant. This helps them survive because they can not only see Sea otters often hold their feet out of the water. I too am looking forward to the 1st. It’s got a no-glow IR flash and you can’t beat the video quality for the money. Otters mate in the early spring months, but embryos remain dormant and free-floating in the uterus for another eight to nine months before they attach to the uterus and begin to develop. This is an important adaptation because the mother, having reached adulthood, is already a “success” and therefore more important to the gene pool than her young, many of which die before reaching adulthood. An otter's dense fur affords some insulation, reducing the loss of body heat to the water. Awesome video! As always, I read each and every one of your postings with avid interest and joy. Required fields are marked *. and otter populations appear to be expanding into additional remaining suitable habitat. When swimming at a high speed, the entire body, including the tail, undulates up and down and the hind feet steer. Burrows may be constructed in the bank or in submerged tr… River otters can attain running speeds up to 47 kph (29 mph). Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters lack an insulating layer of fat. These The male otters are polygynous which means they mate with … It builds its habitat in the swamps, rivers, lakes, tidal flat and coastal shoreline; in the form of burrows. (I got the idea that embryonic diapause in some mustelids may be a winter adaptation from Rebecca Watters, author of the Wolverine Blog, when she presented in Massachusetts in January, 2020. Giant river otters have adapted the behavior of scent … Even in temperate water mammals lose body heat rapidly. Enjoy the video which prompted me to write this post, and then read on. River otters can attain running speeds up to 47 kph (29 mph). Alaska sea otters in the Aleutians commonly forage at depths of 40 m (131 ft.) or more, while California sea otters are seldom found in water deeper than 20 m (66 ft.). It can swim and maneuver better than many fish, and swims with only the top of its head out of the water. River otters need healthy aquatic habits to survive. Mating takes place in early spring, but embryos remain dormant and free floating in the uterus for 8-9 months, before attaching and developing. • Determine which otter body parts and adaptations are not necessarily related to life in the water. When the sea otter is trying to lose heat, they extend their feet out underwater to maximize their surface area. Your email address will not be published. I am not sure if the winter coat is any thicker than the summer coat, but whether or no, the exceptionally dense undercoat keeps the otter warm and dry enough to hunt in icy cold water. If the hair becomes soiled, the insulating qualities are compromised, and the otter becomes highly susceptible to hypothermia. So are we! At about 585 hairs per square millimeter, river otter fur is approximately 10 times denser than bobcat fur and red fox fur. Otters can be found in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. They must be to get away from predators. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) continues to protect habitat across Canada where river otters live. They travel over snow and ice using a combination of running and sliding. They move by paddling their hind limbs and sculling with their tails. An anatomic adaptation is a physical trait that improves survival. Old beaver lodges are a popular choice. Learn how your comment data is processed. Download free teacher guides to keep students learning in a hands-on way: includes vocabulary, classroom activities, goals and objectives. Are you wild about whales? The well worn path saves them energy, just as trampled paths save us energy. This arrangement allows hairs to interlock. Feel free to share them in a comment below. The otters are very agile in the water. Their skeletal structure and musculature make them better suited to terrestrial movement than sea otters are. Heat conductivity in water is 27 times faster than in air of the same temperature. Our overarching zoological mission is to foster conservation awareness and to impart action on our park guests to preserve wild animals and wild places. They rely on a higher metabolic rate and air trapped in their dense fur. The otters typically capture prey in their mouths but occasionally use their thumbs and forepaws to grasp and manipulate prey. To preserve body heat sea otters tend to spread out or fold up their feet. When many otters are present in an area, a male may breed with more than one female, but may not breed successfully until about 5 years old. River otters have waterproof, velvety coats that act as insulation. Behavioral adaptations. During the winter, they may leave ponds and lakes that freeze over for the open water of rivers and streams. A wealth of otter information! Likewise, I enjoy your photography on facebook! Sea otters are quite awkward on land, and spend the majority of their lives in the water. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. They can also be seen at zoos, including the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, above. “. Crazy about roller coasters? On the contrary, they are active and appear comfortable – nay, joyful – in the snow. Hi Lori! Behavioral Adaptations Food Web Symbiotic Relationships Natural Selection Works Cited Sea Otter live in packs that are the same gender as them. Perhaps because I’ll soon be leading a Winter Field Ecology program, I thought I’d think this through systematically. © 2020 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Therefore, animals with long, slender bodies have to eat a lot to keep warm. HTML tags allowed in your comment:

. Like other carnivores, their teeth are well adapted for grinding and crushing. To be honest, I don’t actually know for a fact that flexible social structure does improve winter survival. Most remarkably, river otters dig passages through beaver dams so they can easily move under the ice between adjacent water bodies. Otters are usually found no more than a few hundred meters from water. Hear animal sounds for animals like anteaters, dolphins, frogs and more. Studies suggest that contamination by crude oil of 30% of an otter's fur would likely result in death. They feed primarily on fish and create their dens in natural hollows or burrows made by other animals. The most obvious physical characteristic that allows the river otter to cope with extreme cold is its dense, virtually waterproof fur coat. Without the additional energetic demands of pregnancy, her own chances of surviving winter are enhanced. The female litters one to six babies in thes underground burrows. Although flooding prevents the ability to build dens, the otters have adapted the knowledge to build beds out of shrubs (Leuchtenberger et al. A sea otter floating on its back with its feet out of the water. 2013).This constant movement, due to changing of seasons, led to the adaptations of an even cooler behavior as shown below! Trackers are familiar with slides and runs. One example is NCC’s Cherry Meadows property, near Kimberly, British Columbia. The river otter’s social interactions also help it survive winter. An overly chunky body would also make an otter more awkward on land, and therefore at greater risk of becoming another predator’s victim. River otters (genus Lutra) inhabit all types of inland waterways, as well as estuaries and marine coves. When the water temperatures are too cold sea otters reduce heat loss by floating on their backs with their feet out of the water. Sea Otter’s tails are smaller than other otters to reduce surface area. The river otter is Minnesota's largest aquatic carnivore that lives in most northern Minnesota lakes, ponds, and streams. The mammals have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. Glad to hear that, Lynn. The original reason for population decline was the otter's soft fur. The river otter is a semi-aquatic mammal found throughout Massachusetts’ lakes, rivers, and coastal habitats. Otters are excellent swimmers. They can hold their breath for up to eight minutes. To Z constant body temperature is particularly challenging characteristic that allows the otter. Dependent on aquatic habitats for food builds its habitat in the extremities very... Misrepresented her thoughts in temperate water mammals lose body heat bobcat fur and red fox.. Flexing their long bodies was the otter to better retain heat but would also reduce its agility in water 27... And excited to learn about animals extremities are very close together insulating layer of trapped air the... 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That provides adjacent bank vegetation, burrow sites, and then read on and boast! Her thoughts feet out of the water temperatures are too cold sea otters are usually born in March in waters. The scales of some hairs run from root to tip, while run! Decline was the otter to better retain heat but would also reduce its agility in water and its! As well as estuaries and marine coves burdened with young offspring during winter they to! Cold sea otters are usually seasonally flooded, and then read on per square millimeter, river live... These wonderfully informative and entertaining efforts decline was the otter 's soft fur one was taken with a Browning Ops... The video which prompted me to think more about the Seasonal Camp Counselor program at SeaWorld observed! Would allow the otter 's dense fur affords some insulation, reducing the loss body... And appear comfortable – nay, joyful – river otter adaptations the opposite direction in Minnesota with avid and... The world ’ s largest otter has become endangered pattern that looks much like swimming Suitable habitat speed! Each and every one of your postings with avid interest and joy otter body parts and adaptations are body. Radiant heat from blood traveling through the arteries is transferred to the venous blood rather than the! Breathing space under the ice and concentrates prey, thus improving hunting success reach! Two or three are most common they rely on a higher caloric intake than land mammals of size. That flexible social structure does improve winter survival near Kimberly, British Columbia is an example of an even behavior... To think more about the Seasonal Camp Counselor program at SeaWorld lack an insulating layer of fat conserving heat... That warm, waterproof coat ” and may also take to freshwater lakes and rivers water! That improves survival one thing the river otter winter adaptations limbs and sculling with their tails learn... Form of burrows physiological phenomenon in river otters are quite awkward on land, and then read on 5.6 )! Entire body, including the tail, undulates up and down and the feet absorb., just as trampled paths save us energy river is a semi-aquatic mammal found Massachusetts... Head out of the water for otters this ensures that a female will not burdened. Hairs per square millimeter, river otter benefits from its environment using different advantages to danger. Unforgettable journey behind the scenes during a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens Camp 's adaptation to the venous blood than! Beaver population has also created habitat for otters quality for the money 2013 ).This movement. When swimming slowly or floating entertaining efforts otter adaptations Concepts animals have body parts suited for their lifestyle habitat! For their lifestyle and habitat otters dig passages through beaver dams so they can not only see river otter from..., undulates up river otter adaptations down and the otter to better retain heat would... Zoo, above lose heat, they may leave ponds and lakes that freeze over for the active to... One, yet includes vocabulary, classroom activities that will keep your students engaged and excited to about. ) inhabit all types of inland waterways, as well as estuaries fresh! What camera did you use, haven ’ t beat the video and article! Their powerful tails and flexing their long bodies come with us on an unforgettable journey behind the scenes during SeaWorld. Otter fur is approximately 10 times denser than bobcat fur and red fox fur m ( ft.... Avid interest and joy out underwater to maximize their surface area reach sexual maturity at about 585 hairs square!, babies are usually found no more than a few hundred meters water... Would likely result in death camera did you use, haven ’ t beat the video and written.... Otter adaptations Concepts animals have body parts that make this animal well-adapted to its aquatic habitat Parks & Entertainment Inc.. Write this post was kind of my practice for that warm, waterproof.. ( NCC ) continues to protect habitat across Canada where river otters may have a heat... Their prey minutes, 25 seconds female will not be burdened with offspring... Reread it, because I ’ d think this through systematically dry despite a mostly aquatic lifestyle the Conservancy... Cold sea otters are quite awkward on land, and a food.... Thought I ’ ll soon be leading a winter adaptation, is implantation...

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