Lakeside Nature Center

Critter Corner - River Otter
(Lontra canadensis)


The North American River Otter's whiskers are extremely sensitive and help the otter locate prey underwater.


Fish and crayfish are river otters' favorite food, but they also eat frogs, earthworms, salamanders, snakes, clams, turtles and even ducks.  They swim along the surface until they spy a fish, then dive down and use amazing swimming skills to outmaneuver their prey.  They love to eat it head first.


Mom Otter gives birth to two to four babies that are blind and toothless, but fully furred.  Mom provides milk and encircles her babies with her body to keep them warm.  They are born in the spring and stay in the den for about 12 weeks.


River otters are found across the United States and Canada in rivers, streams, lakes and some coastal areas.  Because of past trapping and habitat loss, the population is now much smaller than it was when the settlers first arrived.



At first glance, river otters seem cute and playful, but they are fierce fighters with sharp teeth and they can defeat even a dog in combat.


  • River otters are probably the most adept swimmers of all mammals.

  • They have sleek bodies and powerful, webbed back feet.

  • They can swim 7 miles per hour, dive 50 feet and stay underwater up to 4 minutes.

 To learn more about River otters

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(Photo credits:  Otter drinking, Carol DeRuse; all others, Deb Hilburn)

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