North American river otter

(Lontra canadensis)


North American river otter IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The River otter has a head-body length of 66-107 cm, length of tail is 31-46 cm. They weight about 5-14 kg. Females are smaller than males. The colour of the fur is very dark, dusky brown above, underparts are lighter silvery or grayish. The fur is very thick and velvety. The feet are well-webbed, with strong claws. The basic river otter social group is the family, consisting of an adult female and her progeny. Adult males also commonly establish enduring social groupings that have been documented to comprise as many as 17 individuals. North American river otters are polygynous, gestation lasts 61–63 days. Weaning occurs at 12 weeks.

Did you know?
That, with a thick layer of fat beneath the skin, a dense, oily fur, nose and ears which can be closed under water, and webbed feet this animal is well adapted to the aquatic environment? But they can also move well on land, achieving running speeds of 29 km/hr (18 miles/hr).


Name (Scientific) Lontra canadensis
Name (English) North American river otter
Name (French) Loutre du Canada, Loutre de rivière
Name (German) Kanadaotter
Name (Spanish) Nutria del Canada, Nutria norteamericana
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Dimitry Azovtsev



Range North America (USA and Canada)
Habitat Streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, and coastal areas.
Wild population Widespread in Canada, Alaska, and midwestern and southwestern USA; lower numbers elsewhere. Since 1976 over 4'000 otters have been reintroduced in the USA.
Zoo population 284 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

North American river otter


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The North American river otter is not threatened in the wild, and keeping this species in zoos outside North America has a low priority. The animals are kept for educational purposes and serve as ambassadors, lobbying for clean water and the restoration of freshwater courses.