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Northern River Otter. (Lontra Canadensis)

Northern River Otter. (Lontra Canadensis)

Northern River Otter. (Lontra Canadensis)

This sleek dark brown creature is a member of the weasel family.  They are often characterized by their playful behaviour.  Rolling, sliding, pushing sticks around with their noses, and frolicking together

Free Short-Tailed Weasel Animal photo and picture

 with extended family group members.  This is unlike most members of the weasel family that live solitary lives.

Northern River Otter lives across the entire province living primarily in or along wooded rivers, ponds, and lakes.  They are also common along our coasts where they feed on crabs and saltwater fish.  They favour ponds and lakes with beaver populations and will make use of old beaver and muskrat burrows on steep banks .  Their dens will have both underwater and above water entrances.  Though they have a territory of about 24

 square kilometers that includes both water and uplands they can range great distances from their dens.  They will leave scent marks as they travel around but are not known to be territorial.

They are active throughout the year.  Winter is especially a fun time when they make snow slides that they will repeatedly use during an outing.  Snow and mud slides are a sure sign of Otters in the area.

Their sleek body, webbed toes, rudder-like tails, and valved ears and noses make them well adapted as both aquatic and land animals.  They can cruise along paddling with all four feet or make a sprint to catch some speedy prey.  Often using an undulating motion of their body and their hind feet and tails they can swim under water for up to five minutes.  Their long whiskers help to find fish, crayfish, turtles, frogs and other prey in muddy conditions.  They will also eat young birds and small mammals such as mice.   

The female bears a litter of one to six blind fully furred young in March or April.  They are nursed by their mother for the first few months and are gradually introduced to food at three to four months.  They will learn to hunt and then leave the family den when they are six months old.  They become sexually mature when they are two years old.  The mother will breed again shortly after a litter is born but the embryos do not implant and grow until the following spring.

Check out these links: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_river_otter

https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/what-we-do/resource-centre/featured-species/mammals/river-otter.html

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