River Otter

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I am an Indiana fresh water River Otter.

We are found in the United States and Canadian waterways and are a sub-species of the Otter (Lutrinae), which belongs to the martens (Mustelidae) family.

We’ve been around for a long time and our fossils date back to the Pleistocene period.  Archeological remains have been uncovered from 200 BC to the mid-1400s.

We are expert swimmers and divers and swim at an average speed of seven miles per hour. We can stay underwater for up to 2 minutes.  Unlike muskrats or beavers, we barely makes a ripple when swimming or splash when diving. Because of specially built ears and our nose that has a valve-like skin that closes, we’re watertight underwater.

We talk with our noses, mainly by smelling marked territories and when we do talk, it is with chirps, chuckles, grunts, whistles and screams.

We’re very playful and play more than most wild animals — wrestling, chasing other otters, tossing and diving for rocks and clamshells, toying with live prey and occasionally, sliding.

We can live up to 25 years in captivity and about 15 years in the wild and our colorful coats range from nearly black to reddish or grayish brown. Our velvety thick fur is durable and has been in demand ever since Europeans came to this continent so event today, people hunt us for our fur.
We have few natural enemies, especially in water. On land, young otters are vulnerable to a variety of predators such as the fox, wolf and raptors. Most otter mortality is related to humans and includes habitat destruction and adding pesticides and pollutants — mercury, DDT, dieldrin and polychlorinated biphenyl — into the food chain.   Since otters are at the top of the food chain these nasty chemicals are concentrated by the time they reach us.

You can read more about my family and our return to Indiana.