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|Common name:||River Otter|
|Scientific name:||Lutra canadensis|
|Other names:||Northern river otter, Common otter|
|Status on Vashon:||Rare|
The River Otter is a semiaquatic mammal native to Vashon and Puget Sound. (The larger Sea Otter is typically only found on the outer coast.) An adult river otter can weigh between 11 and 30 lbs. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur.
The river otter, a member of the weasel family, is equally versatile in the water -- both salt and fresh water -- and on land. It establishes a burrow close to the water's edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young.
North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians (such as frogs), turtles, and crayfish. Instances of river otters eating small mammals and occasionally birds have been reported as well.
The range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. River otters are very susceptible to environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers. A number of reintroduction projects have been initiated to help stabilize the reduction in the overall population.
|More details:||Encyclopedia of Life Wikipedia<|
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