North American river otter in exhibit

North American River Otter

Scientific Name

Lontra canadensis

Class

Mammalia

Order

Carnivora

Range

Canada and the United States

Habitat

Rivers, lakes, and wetlands

Estimated Wild Population

n/a
North american river otter in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern

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Physical Description

North American river otters have long, streamlined bodies that help them move easily through the water, propelled by their webbed feet. Their brown waterproof fur helps them retain heat. These otters feed on fish, crayfish, insects, turtles, frogs, and other water animals. They live alone or in family groups consisting of a female and her offspring. Females retreat to dens to give birth to their young, called kits, which take to the water after only two months.

Interesting Fact 1

North American river otters have long, sensory whiskers that can detect prey in cloudy water.

Interesting Fact 2

These social mammals play hide and seek, slide down slopes, and use their paws to juggle.

Interesting Fact 3

They can hold their breath underwater for up to eight minutes.

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Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

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Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy. 

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Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

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