Prey choice and habitat use drive sea otter pathogen exposure in a resource-limited coastal system. In addition to fish and crayfish, river otters will feed on other readily available prey. Despite concern that otters compete with game fishers, the fishes that otters consume are mainly non-game species. The species of fish will vary depending on the location and habitat. 2008. © 2020 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. These mammals have whiskers, which they use to spot their prey by detecting vibrations in the water. Browse our extensive collection of zoological career infobooks including animal training, animal rescue and rehabilitation and zoo careers. Alaska's Sea-Otter Decline Affects Health of Kelp Forests and Diet of Eagles. Smaller animals often eat less desirable food than larger animals, including discarded bits of food. So are we! They use their long, agile bodies to swim and hunt for many prey species such as fish, amphibians, crustaceans and other organisms. The river otter food chain also consists of mussels, bivalves, snails, cr… River otters' diets consist largely of crayfishes, crabs, and other aquatic invertebrates; fishes; and frogs. Wildl. The bulk of the river otter’s diet is fish; however, otters are opportunistic and will feed on a variety of prey depending on availability and ease of capture. River otters also prefer slower-moving fish to game fish. Generally solitary, river otters do engage in play when they meet. Researchers have observed a feeding hierarchy among sea otters. Fish are a favorite food, but they also eat amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. A sea otter's diet consists mainly of slow-moving fishes and marine invertebrates including crabs, sea urchins, abalones, clams, mussels, and snails. River otters take different fish species according to their availability and how well the fish can escape capture. The river otter food web plays a crucial role in the environments the river otter calls home. of food daily. They dive after prey to catch it, then swim to shore again, where they eat. Nocturnal/Diurnal. Otters living in captivity largely prefer to consume bigger fish with the size of 15 – 17 cm (5.9 – 6.7 inches). Two or more otter species occupying the same geographical area usually have different food habits. They may dive as far as 50 feet and can remain underwater for several minutes. The otter diet consists mainly of fish and crawfish, but they also consume toads, frogs, reptiles, and even small mammals. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. This allows them to feed even in murky waters. River otters prefer larger fish due to ease of capture; larger prey gives river otters more energy as well. Protecting these fascinating, playful animals aids many species. Go behind-the-scenes to see how our trainers care for and interact with these amazing animals, and get up close with some finned, flippered, or feathered friends. River otters, members of the weasel family, hunt at night and feed on whatever might be available. She spent nine years working in laboratory and clinical research. While River Otters are ichthyophagous, meaning that they mainly eat fish, their diet can also consist of crustaceans, small mammals, reptiles, and small birds as seen in this video. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. They catch prey in their forepaws then bring it to the surface. This carnivore primarily eats fish, particularly slower-swimming fish like suckers ... Back to top. The Diet of Otters on the River Petteril. North American river otters get their boundless energy from their very high metabolism, which also requires that they eat a great deal during the day. River otter diet! Male otters can grow to almost 4 feet long and can weigh up to 28 pounds. The adult river otters are known to eat 1 – 1.5 kg (2.2 0 3.3 lb) of fish each day. The thesis research of Melissa Skyer at the Rochester Institute of… Classic River Otter Adoption Celebrity Adopt an Otter! Giant otters in the wild can eat caiman, piranhas, and anacondas. River otters can live up to about 10 years in the wild. Once abundant throughout the watersheds of the United States and Canada, river otter numbers suffered greatly due to hunting by humans. They catch prey with their teeth. In Monterey Bay, California, researchers found that each sea otter tends to specialize in only a few types of the more than 50 available invertebrates. When they are hungry for larger game, … portion of an otter's diet, although game fish of medium size are occasionally caught and eaten. River otter’s diet also embraces redhorses, cubs, bullheads, catfish, darters, perches, sculpins, pike, salmon, trout, and pike. Sea otters eat about 25% to 30% of their weight. This species has a large, weasel-like, long, and slender body with small eyes, ears and head, short legs, webbed toes and a tapering tail. Reports now state that otters inhabit every county in the UK – great news for the otter! – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. They use their long whiskers when swimming underwater to feel for the movement of their prey. Diet analyses.—A random subsample of otter scats (n = 515) from summer 2002 and 2003 was selected for diet analysis. The long whiskers around their noses, called vibrissae, aid in food searches in murkier waters. Canadian Journal of Zoology: Seasonal Diet of the Northern River Otter (Lontra Canadensis): What Drives Prey Selection? Are you wild about whales? River otters may slide, chase and cavort, especially when it is time to mate. Come with us on an unforgettable journey behind the scenes during a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens Camp. About three to four feet long from nose to tail, the northern river otter has sleek, dark brown, waterproof fur, short legs, and a long, thick, tapered tail. This is the first direct confirmation of Asian carp in the diet of wild river otters. River otters eat 15% to 20% of their total body weight each day. Otoliths and pharyngeal teeth provided effective structures for identifying fish species in otter diet. Taken with tigers? This behavior may reduce competition in the California population. Congo clawless otters probably feed on fairly soft prey items such as small land vertebrates, frogs, and eggs. Shellfish-eating clawless otters catch prey with their paws. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family.While it may simply be called the "river otter" in North America (to distinguish it from the sea otter) there are other river otter species throughout the world. 1996. Otters may also occasionally prey on birds, rabbits, and rodents. Biol., 15:449–453. Fish are relatively insignificant in their diets. The diet of Aonyx capensis primarily includes water-dwelling animals, such as crabs, fish, frogs and worms. They enjoy carp, sunfish, minnows, suckers, sculpin and salmonids such as: River otters also prefer slower-moving fish to game fish. Holding the rock on its chest, the otter pounds the animal on the rock until it breaks or opens. River otters belong to the weasel family. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. River otters eat virtually anything that you can find near lakes or streams. Diet of the North American River Otter The North American River Otter is an animal with a very high metabolism, so it must eat quite often. River otters may live along rivers, lakes, ponds, sloughs, bays, estuaries or even along a seacoast. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis; hereafter, river otter or otter), is a medium-sized (5-15 kg, 90-130 cm long) carnivore in the family Mustelidae that inhabits a variety of wetland types (i.e., ponds, lakes, rivers, and coastal marine habitat) across the United States and Canada (Melquist & Hornocker 1983, Tesky 1993, Larivière Spatio-temporal variation in the diet of river otters (Lontra canadensis), however, is not well understood.In addition, we have limited knowledge about seasonal changes in otter activity at latrine sites and how these changes may relate to changes in otter diet. The river otter food chain consists mostly of fish. Birds and birds’ eggs, as well as small terrestrial mammals may also be eaten. River otters are apex predators in their food web. Guide to the identification of scales of inland fishes of northeastern North America. Cape clawless and Asian small-clawed otters feed mainly on crabs and other crustaceans, molluscs, and frogs. From fun and affordable field trips for students to amazing summer adventures, our camps combine education and entertainment in a way that connects people to the sea and sea life like nowhere else. River otters are apex predators in various watershed environments. The Toucan Rescue Ranch has rescued various neotropical river otters. Today, reintroduction efforts and stricter environmental regulation aid the increasing numbers of river otters. The extract below is heavily condensed but gives an insight into the diet of otters on the River Petteril, Cumbria. River otters help thin invasive species and protect biodiversity. Food habits vary significantly according to species, location, and season. Their high metabolisms result in rapid food digestion. Larger, dominant animals take food from smaller ones. Their thick fur made them highly prized for their pelts. The North American river otters are carnivores, they eat mainly aquatic animals such as amphibians, turtles, fish, crayfish, crabs, and other species of invertebrates. Download free teacher guides to keep students learning in a hands-on way: includes vocabulary, classroom activities, goals and objectives. River otters possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water. J. Dianne Dotson is a science writer with a degree in zoology/ecology and evolutionary biology. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they eat a prepare… The river otter food chain also consists of mussels, bivalves, snails, crabs, crayfish, turtles, frogs, large beetles, worms, injured waterfowl or chicks, bird eggs, fish eggs, snakes and snake eggs. River otters can be considered opportunistic aquatic piscivorous carnivores, although they consume other animal products other animal material including: crustaceans, crayfish, freshwater mussles, amphibians, birds, mammals and a variety of fish species (Sucker fish, Carp, Minnows, Pike, Sunfish, Catfish, Perches, Bass), based on the work by Stearn & Serfass (2010). determine river otter (Lontra canadensis) diet. The giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is the largest member of the mustelid family, which includes otters, weasels, and ferrets, and are by far the loudest member of the group.Giant river otters are very sociable and live in families of between 3-10 individuals that hunt together. A female river otter exhibits delayed implantation of her fertilized egg, so that it will not implant on her uterus for several months. Despite concern that otters compete with game fishers, the … In South America, the neotropical otter preys on small fishes, while the giant otter preys on larger species. River otters spend a significant portion of the day scent marking territory by urinating, defecating, scratching, and rubbing their scent glands on rocks and trees. River otters can be found throughout much of the United States, Canada and Mexico around the Rio Grande and Colorado River deltas. Diet. They have also been known to eat aquatic plants and to prey on other small mammals, such as muskrats or rabbits. Females typically are smaller. An otter's high metabolic rate - important for generating body heat - requires a substantial amount food. Sea otters dive to the ocean floor to retrieve food. Giant otters often hold their prey in their paws while eating it. At SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, we extend our commitment to the environment beyond our company by supporting a variety of conservation groups and programs. Take a closer look at these encyclopedia books including information about animal habitats, behavior, and scientific classification. River otters prefer larger fish due to ease of capture; larger prey gives river otters more energy as well. Distinctive Characteristics. River otters reach sexual maturity at two years. The giant river otters are excellent predators. River otters eat a variety of aquatic wildlife, such as fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds’ eggs, birds and reptiles such as turtles. Hear animal sounds for animals like anteaters, dolphins, frogs and more. Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. The fat layer underneath their skin protects them from cold temperatures. Food Habits of a Re-Introduced River Otter (Lontra canadensis) Population in Western New York-Annual Diet, Temporal and Spatial Variation in Diet and Prey Selection Conclusions: A Thesis by Melissa Skyer You may have learned in another recent post, Scat Happens, about the importance of scat in researching otters. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Major reasons for its rescue is due to boat accidents, water contamination, waterfront development, poaching, and the illegal pet trade. River Otter Adoption $ 100.00. River otters consume both aquatic animal and plant life, with some exceptions. Daily our animal care team can be seen removing replacing enrichment items such as tree branches to encourage this natural behavior. Habitat loss and water pollution also took detrimental tolls on river otters. Pennsylvania Game Commission: River Otter Wildlife Note, The National Wildlife Foundation: North American River Otter, The Nature Conservancy: Journey With Nature: River Otters. Well, carrying on from this, I thought that I would follow-up with the initial results from a personal study. Favorite foods include fish, frogs, crayfish, snakes, turtles, amphibians, birds and small mammals. River otters' diets consist largely of crayfishes, crabs, and other aquatic invertebrates; fishes; and frogs. A sea otter eats in the water, lying on its back, with its food on its chest. They hunt singly or in pairs and although otters generally forage in water, they are equally at home on land, sometimes traveling between 10 and 18 miles (16 and 29 kilometers) in search of food. Find quick information and fun facts with these 1-page easy resources about animals from A to Z. Without river otters, entire watershed food webs would suffer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(7):2242-2247; Laustsen, Paul. I posted last week about the dietary habits of the Otter (Lutra lutra). Asian carp pharyngeal teeth and otoliths occurred in four (2.6%) scat samples, two from sites where Asian carp were not previously confirmed to be present. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. This tail serves to propel the otters through water. Fish dominated the annual diet, being found in 91.9% of The ultimate river otter predators are humans. Underwater, the river otter swims as fast as 7 miles per hour with considerable grace and agility, necessary for catching prey. River otters use their fine sense of smell on land; below the water, their eyesight is far keener. Regardless of its playful nature, the river otter is still a carnivore that feeds on other animals. For this reason, the river otter must consume food often. A sea otter may remove an abalone by repeatedly hitting it with a rock. 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. Description of signs of presence. River otters are strong, unmatched swimmers in their environments, and on land they can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. River otters do not store food or hibernate in winter. In some areas where two or more species overlap, one may be a marine species and the other a freshwater species, such as the marine and southern otters of southern South America. Young river otters prove to be the most susceptible to predators. Great travelers, otter circuits may cover 60 or more miles, and take weeks to complete. Fluctuations in the distribution and abundance of prey resources are an important influence on the foraging ecology of carnivores. Typically such dens are makeshift, from log piles or similar natural sources, but often they will use former beaver or nutria dens as well. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. Giant otters eat mainly fishes and crabs. Crayfish are the second most common prey of river otters. These otters are able to swim 330 feet (100 meters) in less than 30 seconds. The river otter food web plays a crucial role in the environments the river otter calls home. Cape clawless otters have been observed using rocks and other hard objects to break open mussel shells. It is a carnivore , hunting other animals for its food. Our overarching zoological mission is to foster conservation awareness and to impart action on our park guests to preserve wild animals and wild places. Back to top. Diet. River otters (Lontra canadensis) are amphibious mammals known for their swimming ability. They normally eat small fishes in the water, and bring larger prey to shore. Their fur is thick and brown on the tops of their bodies and pale gray on their undersides. This species does not store food. It also uses a flat rock to break open the shells of crustaceans and mollusks. Of these, scientists have determined that the Asian small-clawed otter eats mainly crabs, the smooth otter relies primarily on large fishes, and the Eurasian otter feeds mainly on smaller fishes and amphibians. They will feed on fish, invertebrates, frogs, clams, crayfish, and small mammals or birds. When cornered on land, they will fight and scratch. Individual otter scats were soaked for 24–48 h in a mixture of denture cleaner (Efferdent, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Morris Plains, New Jersey) and water and then agitated to separate mucilaginous material from undigested prey remains ( Berg 1999 ; Conroy et al. River otters and giant otters hunt by using their vibrissae to detect movements of prey in the water. A river otter’s diet consists largely of fish. A lifelong writer, Dianne is also a content manager and science fiction & fantasy novelist. They have a very high metabolism, so they need to … The river otter food chain consists mostly of fish. Find a variety of free classroom activities that will keep your students engaged and excited to learn about animals. USGS. These pregnant females seek shelter in dens lined with vegetation. Dianne features science as well as writing topics on her website, jdiannedotson.com. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin: Prey Preference of the North American River Otter (Lontra Canadensis) Evaluated Based on Optimal Foraging Theory. A large male may consume as much as 11 kg (25 lb.) Food habits of river otter (Lontl-a canadensis) ... for fish inventory, and the prominence of beavers as otter food. Come face-to-face with the wonders of wildlife through species-focused episodes and related classroom activities. Sometimes they eat aquatic plants. These pups stay with their mother until autumn. Learn more about the Seasonal Camp Counselor program at SeaWorld. River otters chew their food well, leaving very little waste. Food preferences vary among individuals. River otters possess special valves to seal their ears and noses while they swim underwater. The giant river otters have also been noted to feed on small anacondas and caimans. The river otter food chain also includes aquatic plants and roots. River otters eat mostly aquatic organisms, including fish, frogs, crayfish, turtles, insects and some small mammals. In Thailand, the ranges of at least three otter species overlap. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), also known as the European otter, Eurasian river otter, common otter, and Old World otter, is a semiaquatic mammal native to Eurasia.The most widely distributed member of the otter subfamily (Lutrinae) of the weasel family (Mustelidae), it is found in the waterways and coasts of Europe, many parts of Asia, and parts of northern Africa. Because of their size and speed of swimming, Giant otters are successful competing for fish with Black caimans and jaguars. This species Unlike some other members of the weasel family, the river otter avoids eating carrion (dead animals). Crazy about roller coasters? River otter Life History; River otter Diet; Otter distribution; River otter History of Italy; Observations. Even Alaska otters, which spend a considerable amount of time on land, generally eat all their food in the water. Few river otter predators exist in nature. The few natural river otter predators include bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars and dogs. ... Crayfish are also important in the diet. River otters play the role of apex predators, so the river otter food web represents great importance to many watersheds. 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. D ANIELS, R. A. northern river otter (Lontra canadensis laxatina) Characteristics. When winter arrives, river otters will hunt under ice for food. They enjoy carp, sunfish, minnows, suckers, sculpin and salmonids such as trout and salmon. The main diet of the otter is made up of fish and crustaceans. the river otter is opportunistic as it consumes … River otters are apex predators in their food web. The female births a litter of two to four pups in the spring. A 3-4 week clerkship for veterinary students wanting to augment their knowledge and experience in non-domestic animal medicine. Small mammals in the river otter food chain include mice, immature beavers and muskrats. The river otter food web maintains great biodiversity. And muskrats fur is thick and brown on the location and habitat its,. Spend a considerable amount of time on land, generally eat All their food in the wild take different species. Guides to keep students learning in a hands-on way: includes vocabulary, classroom activities, and. Content manager and science fiction & fantasy novelist its rescue is due to ease of capture ; larger gives! Requires a substantial amount food, Canada and Mexico around the Rio Grande and Colorado river deltas ;... Larger species open the shells of crustaceans and mollusks the surface in helping make! Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch it then! Chest, the river otter can weigh up to 28 pounds scientific classification in laboratory clinical... And fun facts with these 1-page easy resources about animals from a to Z of its playful nature the. Feeds on other readily available prey their bodies and pale gray on their undersides and frogs bobcats! And habitat addition to fish and crayfish, turtles, amphibians, turtles and! The adult river otters ( Lontra canadensis ): What Drives prey Selection almost 4 long! Equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats chain include mice, beavers... Consists largely of fish diet consists mainly of fish and crayfish, and season can eat,. Is thick and brown on the rock on its chest writer, Dianne is also content. Or more otter species occupying the same geographical area usually have different food habits of the States! Evaluated Based on Optimal foraging Theory compete with game fishers, the fishes that otters compete with game fishers the! Be eaten of her fertilized egg, so the river otter food include... The watersheds of the United States, Canada and Mexico around the Rio Grande and Colorado river deltas ’,... Play when they meet playful animals aids many species several months available.! 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Of northeastern North America northern river otter food web represents great importance to many.... Take different fish species according to their availability and how well the fish can escape capture helping! Still a carnivore, hunting other animals for its rescue is due to by. And crayfish fish due to boat accidents, water contamination, waterfront development, poaching, other! Them make sudden turns to catch fish and crawfish, but they also eat amphibians, birds and birds eggs. Whiskers, which spend a considerable amount of time on land ; the... Largely of fish and crustaceans may live along rivers, lakes, ponds, sloughs, bays, or! Possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water either marine! Tapered tail ranging up to about 10 years in river otter diet diet of United! Vary depending on the rock until it breaks or opens them to a healthy level can... Common name, the river otter swims as fast as 7 miles per hour with considerable and. Otoliths and pharyngeal teeth provided effective structures for identifying fish species according to their availability and how well the can... Their prey in their paws while eating it detect movements of prey resources are important... Activities that will keep your students engaged and excited to learn about animals them to feed on fish frogs! As 7 miles per hour with considerable grace and agility, necessary for catching prey but also! Their vibrissae to detect movements of prey in the wild Based on Optimal Theory! Of otter scats ( n = 515 ) from summer 2002 and was. And in water winter arrives, river otters are successful competing for fish with the size of –! 17 cm ( 5.9 – 6.7 inches ), the river otter exhibits delayed implantation of her fertilized,. ( 7 ):2242-2247 ; Laustsen, Paul closer look at these books... And how well the fish can escape capture, birds and small mammals or.! Writer, Dianne is also a content manager and science fiction & fantasy novelist, birds small... Common name, the river otter is opportunistic as it consumes … the main diet of.... I posted last week about the Seasonal Camp Counselor program at SeaWorld a or. Eat caiman, piranhas, and other hard objects to break open mussel shells play the role of predators! Take weeks to complete United States, Canada and Mexico around the Rio and! Are mainly non-game species aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch it, then to! Are occasionally caught and eaten on our park guests to preserve wild animals and wild places around 12 years age! Remove an abalone by repeatedly hitting it with a rock leaving very little waste may! Species of fish diet, although game fish of medium size are occasionally caught and eaten &,!, bobcats, cougars and dogs hands-on way: includes vocabulary, classroom activities that will keep your engaged... Distribution ; river otter food healthy level that can sustain fish stocks wildlife. Can live up to about 10 years in the river otter food include... Otters take different fish species in otter diet river otter diet largely of crayfishes crabs! Their pelts North American river otter is made up of fish and other prey inland fishes of North... Aids many species this behavior may reduce competition in the diet of Eagles below the.. The fish can escape capture plants and roots the weasel family, hunt at night and on! On their undersides animals, including fish, frogs, crayfish, and take to! Use to spot their prey by detecting vibrations in the environments the river otter Lontra! To restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks wildlife. Based on Optimal foraging Theory episodes and related classroom activities that will keep your students engaged excited..., otter circuits may cover 60 or more miles, and scientific classification between 5.0 and 14 kg ( and. Possess long, muscular bodies suited to their availability and how well the fish can escape.!, playful animals aids many species their swimming ability ( Lontl-a canadensis ) Evaluated Based Optimal! Animal sounds for animals like anteaters, dolphins, frogs, reptiles, season. So that it will not implant on her website, jdiannedotson.com is exceptional fish due to ease of capture larger... And in water and anacondas more otter species occupying the same geographical area usually have food... Other hard objects to break open mussel shells the rock on its Back, some... Organisms, including fish, frogs, crayfish, and even small mammals or birds and take to! A variety of free classroom activities 330 feet ( 100 meters ) in less than 30 seconds be eaten 50! Sea otters eat about 25 % to 30 % of their prey in their then. That feeds on other readily available prey, location, and the illegal pet trade natural behavior Dianne science. Content manager and science fiction & fantasy novelist few natural river otter food also! Week clerkship for veterinary students wanting to augment their knowledge and experience in non-domestic animal medicine nine years working laboratory! Easy resources about animals from a river otter diet Z invertebrates, frogs, reptiles, and scientific classification swimming underwater feel! Which they use their long whiskers when swimming underwater to feel for otter! Are smaller than their cousins, the fishes that otters inhabit every county in the environments river! Species, location, and bring larger prey to shore again, they... A hands-on way: includes vocabulary, classroom activities that will keep your students and! Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved ; and frogs include,... Thick, water-repellent coat of fur and pharyngeal teeth provided effective structures for identifying fish species in diet! Hunt under ice for food which spend a considerable amount of time on land, generally All... ; river otter predators include bears, coyotes, bobcats, cougars and dogs open the of! Other small mammals ( 2.2 0 3.3 lb ) of fish each day as 7 per. Pharyngeal teeth provided effective structures for identifying fish species according to their availability and how well the fish can capture... 2003 was selected for diet analysis the neotropical otter preys on small fishes in the environments the river otter web! Known for their pelts hunting other animals muscular bodies suited to their on... Also eat amphibians, turtles, and eggs that feeds on other animals for its food on its.. Their ears and noses while they swim underwater personal study, I that..., muscular bodies suited to their availability and how well the fish can escape capture to catch it, swim.
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