River otter

At the Cincinnati Zoo in Wolf Woods.

Ranging over much of North America, the North American river otter (Lutra canadensis) survives anywhere with access to abundant prey and clean water. With a streamlined body, webbed feet, muscular tail, flexible body, and waterproof fur, otters are designed for swimming in search of fish, crayfish, and other aquatic creatures to eat. Otters den in a riverbank burrow, under a rock pile, in a thicket, or even in another animal’s home such as a beaver’s lodge.

The river otter is famous for its playful antics – mud sliding, water sports and manipulating objects – which increases coordination and sharpens hunting skills.


  • Where to see them: Canada and North America
  • Length: 3.2 to 3.9 ft
  • Weight: 11 to 33 lbs
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 yrs
  • Habitat: Freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, and coastal waters
  • Diet: Fish, crayfish, ducklings, turtles, and other small animals
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