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6:10 p.m. - 2006-12-13
Water Weasel
Merry Christmas, Critter Lovers!

Or Happy Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Yule and Winter Solstice!

All is smoove here in Wendell World, except for some invaders in my nose and throat. Creature sightings include some cardinals and a bunny, AND, a bald eagle soaring above the intersection of Lexington and University in St. Paul. The bird was obviously about to dive down to the White Castle for some "slyders", don't you think?

My buddy MM was kind enough to suggest that I might have written this article about squirrels! Yay for squirrel research.

In musical news, the Wild Tenor is on a rampage! Now that my former roomie D is out performing in the world, we've got to keep abreast (I mean, "a breastplate") of these events.

Idahoans are in an uproar about a professor who is obsessed with the Sasquatch!

I should maybe rename this blog "Wendell's Weasel Corner", because today's Creature Feature involves yet another member of family Mustelidae: The Otter.


Fourteen cutes! My favorite are the webbed toes!

Ooooh, don't you love them? Shouldn't I have one living in my aquarium? Yes and yes.

There are seven genera and thirteen species of otters throughout the world, including freshwater and marine dwellers. In America we most often see the Northern River Otter, Lutra canadensis. This is also one of the most numerous species; many others are quite threatened. These animals are about three to four feet long and weight ten to 30 pounds.

These short-limbed, long-bodied guys have many superpowers. River otters can dive up to 35 feet, and stay underwater for around eight minutes without breathing. On land, they can run about eighteen miles per hour!

These superpowers come with a price, though; otters have a very high metabolic rate and need to consume around 15% of their body weight in calories per day. That's about three to five hours of daily hunting; eight hours if it's a nursing mama otter.

For dinner, the wild otter enjoys mostly fish. (Whoops, maybe one can't live in my aquarium!) They also enjoy amphibians, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and insects.

Otter fur is also amazing! They have 650,000 hairs per square inch of their fuzzy underfur. Oceanic otters are the only marine species that use fur as insulation instead of blubber. This fur has made otters an important resource for trappers; one website listed that in the year 1983-4 there were 33,135 otter pelts sold with the average price of $18.71 per pelt. WI readers; how much is that up to today?

There were major efforts in the late 80's and 90's to reintroduce otters into wetlands that had previously been over-trapped, which was quite effective.

A group of otters is called a "romp"!

The relationships of otters are mysterious. It sounds like river otters mostly avoid each other and stick to their own territory, which can be anywhere from one mile to 45 miles in size. To communicate, otters both mark their vector with their musky scent glands, as well as vocalizing. It seems like some otters fight each other during mating season. Mostly the males will hook up with honeys around their territory. The ladies can decide when they'd like to get pregnant, though, with the ability to delay implantation.

Les petites bebes are born from January to May. Mama otter usually takes over an abandoned beaver lodge for this purpose. Usually two to three puppies are born, and they nurse for about two months before emerging with their mother for swimming lessons and a solid meal.


While they are swimming, it is hard to distinguish otters from other brown swimming mammals, such as our friends the beaver and the muskrat. It seems like otters swim with their heads visible most of the time. I hope you can see one sometime, though! Oh look, here is a link to a LIVE SEA OTTER CAM! Yay! If you are stressed from any of the upcoming/currently happening holidays listed above, you should view this camera!

Well, I hope you've learned something about the Northern River Otter!


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