Marsh Critters:
River Otters

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River Otter
Lutra canadensis

River otters are members of the weasel or mustelid family, which includes weasels, badgers, skunks, and otters. There are a number of species of otters: sea otters, giant otters, clawless otters - to name a few. Each species has a different "range", or location where they are found. River otters are found in Canada, Western and Southeastern United States.

There are like other members of this family, they have very thick fur. In fact, at 850,000 to one million hairs per square inch, otters have the thickest fur of any mammal. Their fur actually consists of two layers, an undercoat and longer guard hairs. This system traps a layer of air next to their skin so their skin does not get wet.

River otters are usually 35 to 53 inches long. Pups are usually born in the Spring. The pups are born blind and stay in their burrows along riverbanks until they are a month old. Mothers spend much time grooming pups and often carry them on their chests.

River otters eat fish, crayfish, frogs, salamanders, snakes, clams, snails, turtles, birds, and insects.

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