Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Friday, December 29, 2017

With some "old-school" Winter cold embracing the Midwest and Eastern States, thought it appropriate to focus today on our indigenous aquatic weasel, The River Otter.............Superbly adapted to surviving frigid conditions, they do not hibernate, able to stay warm in streams, rivers and ponds............They have water-repellent fur, are able to swim underwater for up to 2 minutes as their nose and ears close up completely............They surface, digging holes through the ice to come up for air and partake in a fish or crayfish meal..............Like the Wolf and Puma, the River Otter occupied much of North America prior to European contact,,,,,,,,,,,,Like the Beaver, it was hunted and trapped with abandon and today occupies the north central and northwestern USA and parts of Canada..................All four of their feet and their tail are webbed, enabling them to go into high gear and attain speeds of up to 7mph while swimming on the surface of their water habitat..................They produce a litter of two to three kits annually each Spring; with a delayed gestation period of 10-11 months--even though the babies only take two to three months to fully develop inside the womb......The mother Otter delays her birth to take advantage of optimum food sources come Winters end.....

Otter Holes
Photo by Mary Holland.
River otters are the most aquatic members of the weasel family. They can swim up to six or seven miles per hour on the surface of the water as well as underneath it, and can remain submerged for up to two minutes. Otters spend a great deal of time fishing under the ice, and obtain oxygen from open holes such as the one pictured (as well as from air pockets under the ice). As their tracks indicate, otters come up onto the ice to eat their prey, be it fish or crayfish, their two favorite winter meals.
North American River OtterLontra canadensis

Location and Habitat
At one time, North American river otters were found
 throughout much of the United States
 and Canada. Due to habitat loss and fur-trapping
 practices, the number of river otters has 
declined. River otters now live primarily in the
north-central and north-western United States, 
and various parts of Canada.

North American river otters live in streams, marshes
 and back waterways surrounding lakes,
 especially the Great Lakes. They are also found in
 similar areas near certain parts of the
 Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

North American river otters are carnivorous, and
 feed on a variety of items. Their diets
 include fish, crayfish, mollusks, frogs, bird eggs
 and sometimes small mammals.

Size and Description
North American river otters grow to sizes of
 2 - 2.5 feet, not including the tail. Tails can 
grow to sizes of another 1 - 1.5 feet in length.
 The fur on river otters is dark brown,
 except for the chin and chest area where it
 is a lighter brown or cream color. The fur 
is thick and helps to keep otters warm while
also repelling water. River otters have long, 
tubular bodies that help make them

Feet on river otters are highly specialized. All
 four feet are webbed helping river otters
 propel through the water. They can also use
 their front two feet to grab or hold items.

River otters have very small ears on their heads,
 and have two small eyes. Their muzzle 
is short and may also have lighter colored fur.
River otters also have long whiskers on 
their heads which help them to feel objects in
 the water.

River otters are adapted to living in and near
water. Their nostrils and ears will close 
completely when they submerge underwater to
 look for food. Their webbed feet and
 tail will give them propulsion, and they can
move their bodies to help them move through
 the water as well. All of these adaptations
combine to make river otters supreme
swimmers in their native habitats.

River otters are intelligent, playful creatures.
 They can be seen sliding down mudbanks 
or playing with other otters. In the water, they
will sometimes pop their heads up like 
periscopes to see what is going on around
 them, and then dive back down after a few

River otters give birth to two or three young
 in early spring. While the entire gestation or 
pregnancy period of female river otters is
approximately 10 - 11 months, the babies are
 only developing inside the mother for a
 period of about 2 - 3 months. This process is 
called delayed implantation.

Other Facts
River otters can make a variety of sounds
 including whistles and hisses.

River otters are now protected in parts of
 their range due to their decreased numbers.

No comments: