Since 1976, over 4,000 otters have been reintroduced in 21 U.S. states. The North American river otter, a member of the subfamily Lutrinae in the weasel family (Mustelidae), is equally versatile in the water and on land. It must remain in motion to maintain its position at the surface. The footprint on this large bowl is from a river otter found in the Adirondack Park located in northern New York State. Photo: Paola Bouley. As the front feet make contact with the ground, the back feet are lifted and land where the front paws first contacted the ground, producing a pattern of tracks in pairs typical of most mustelids. River otter tracks with a tape measure for scale. In the majority of cases, river otter will use the same paths for their travel from one occasion to the next. Female North American river otters give birth in these burrows, producing litters of one to six young. Photo of Wild Otter Footprints. , North American river otters typically breed from December to April. When a river otter is moving fast, the hind feet are placed on top of the tracks of the front feet leaving a … Total River Otter records (including tracks, scat, sign) 2000–2004a 53 26 2.0 (0.1) 106 110 715 2005–2009 44 23 2.0 (0.1) 88 117 1104 2009–2014 51 23 2.0 (0.1) 102 141 1721 a Updated from Black (2009) 234 NORTHWESTERN NATURALIST 97(3) documented 71% mortality between den emer- Tracks are 3 to 3½ inches wide and 3 to 4 inches long. Preceding the settlement of North America by Europeans, North American river otters were prevalent among aquatic habitats throughout most of the continent. In Idaho, juvenile, yearling, and adult males averaged 8, 11, and 17% heavier, respectively, than females of the same age. , North American river otters live an average of 21 years of age in captivity, but they can reach 25 years of age.  Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, and Prince of Wales otter. In Idaho, North American river otters prefer valley habitats over mountainous terrain, and they select valley streams over valley lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. They range through most of sub-Saharan Africa, except for the Congo River basin and arid areas, where they are replaced by the related Congo clawless otter (Aonyx congicus).  Den sites include burrows dug by woodchucks (Marmota monax), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), nutria (Myocastor coypus), or beaver and muskrat lodges. Funny River Otter & Footprints, Tracks Neck Tie.  In Canada, North American river otters occupy all provinces and territories, except for Prince Edward Island. The rhinarium is bare, with an obtuse, triangular projection. In Idaho, North American river otters and beavers were recorded in the same beaver lodge simultaneously on three separate occasions. Saved by Rasher Quivers.  However, river otters will prey on trout, pike, walleye (Sander vitreus vitreus), salmon (Oncorhynchus spp. The North American river otter has a delicate sense of touch in the paws in addition to great dexterity. , North American river otters consume an extensive assortment of fish species ranging in size from 2 to 50 centimeters (0.79 to 19.69 in) that impart sufficient caloric intake for a minute amount of energy expenditure. Also found along the west coast of Scotland. They host numerous endoparasites, such as nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, the sporozoan Isopora, and acanthocephalans. The most severe population declines occurred in interior regions where fewer aquatic habitats supported fewer otter populations. The heel pad is well-defined in this photo. River Stour, Long Melford, Suffolk. Tracks. , Amphibians and reptiles are more obtainable by the North American river otter during the spring and summer as a result of breeding activity, appropriate temperatures, and water supply for the prey. River otter track on a muddy riverbank next to man’s hand for scale. A shorter trachea may improve air exchange and increase lung ventilation in diving mammals.. When a river otter is moving fast, the hind feet are placed on top of the tracks of the front feet leaving a bounding track pattern of evenly spaced pairs of tracks. In freshwater systems, groups occur most often in autumn and during early winter. The pelage has a high luster and varies from light brown to black. But still. , In a new classification, the species is called Lontra canadensis, where the genus Lontra includes all the New World river otters. Crustaceans may even be consumed more than fish. The giant otter or giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal. It establishes a burrow close to the water's edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. This shot shows a hind print over the top of a front print. North American river otters also currently inhabit coastal regions throughout the United States and Canada. Missouri River Otter Saga.  The North American river otters have also been known to catch and consume moulting American wigeon (Mareca americana) and green-winged teal (Anas crecca). , Waterfowl, rails, and some colonial nesting birds are preyed upon by North American river otters in various areas. , The North American river otter is physically well-equipped for aquatic life. Instead, they are created by toe phalanges, bones beneath the foot’s skin.  Trappers in Alberta, Canada commonly assert North American river otters are major predators of North American beavers.  Specific species of reptiles and amphibians prey include: boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata); Canadian toads (Bufo hemiophrys); wood frogs (Rana sylvatica); bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana); green frogs (Rana clamitans); northwestern salamanders (Ambystoma gracile); Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus); rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa); and garter snakes (Thamnophis). North American river otters are not scavengers; they avoid consuming carrion. Also look for a thick, long drag mark behind the tracks made by the otter’s tail.  Most aquatic invertebrates preyed upon by the otters are from the families Odonata (dragonfly nymphs), Plecoptera (stonefly nymphs), and Coleoptera (adult beetles). Online. Otters are often found frolicing in the water alone or in groups.  North American river otters may be victims of canine distemper, rabies, respiratory tract disease, and urinary infection. ), and other game fish during spawning. As such, careful consideration of any threatened, endangered, or fish species of special interest is warranted prior to reintroduction of otters to a watershed. The tail, which is stout and larger in surface area than the limbs, is used for stability while swimming and for short bursts of rapid propulsion. Fur of the North American river otter is thick and lustrous and is the most durable of Native American furs. An entrance, which may be under water or above ground, leads to a nest chamber lined with leaves, grass, moss, bark, and hair. River otters are not territorial, but individual North American river otters of different groups portray mutual avoidance. River otters are the most playful animals in the Border Country. Environmental disasters, such as oil spills, may increase levels of blood haptoglobin and interleukin-6 immunoreactive protein, but decrease body mass. 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