The Otter (Enhydra lutris) is the largest animal in the weasel family, and the only one that mainly lives in water. Thirteen different types of them exist throughout the world, except for in Australia and Antarctica. The average otter can weigh up to 70 pounds and can be as large as 5 feet in length.
Otters have webbed feet and spend most of their time floating in water, even when they sleep, groom, and nurse their young. They are social animals that float together in groups usually separated by sex, but not always. Otters become sexually mature in between their third and sixth year, and they can only have one pup a year.
When finding food, they are one of the few animals that use tools to hunt. They use rocks to smash open clams, mussels, or other small shellfish. They also will sometimes dive up to 330 feet to find their prey.
They are unique in that they are the only aquatic mammal that has just fur, not a layer of blubber. Their fur is water-resistant, which helps keep them warm. But it tends to keep humans warm too. The sea otter’s fur is the finest fur of any animal, having 850,000 to 1 million hairs per square inch. Early in the 20th century, otters almost became extinct because they were trapped and hunted for their fur. Now, though, there are up to 150,000 otters that are protected by law through conservation efforts.
Fun Otter Facts
- Sea otters can eat as much as 25 to 30 percent of their body weight each day.
Defenders of Wildlife
The Alaska Sea Otter and Stellar Sea Lion Commission
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