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Otters

North American River Otter

There are three river otters at Little Rock Zoo, two males and one female. The two males are named Rich and Ray. Both boys were born at the Little Rock Zoo in 2003 and 2005. The female, Carly, was born in 2013 and came from Billings, MT.

  • Otters have webbed feet and are expert swimmers.¬†River otters can dive 60 feet or more. Sea otters dive even deeper in search of food.
  • Sea otters rest and sleep by floating on their backs. They groom their fur so it stays water-repellent.
  • Sea otters use rocks to break open clam and mussel shells.
  • River otters love to slide down muddy hills or ice into the water. Mothers and babies play together.
  • River otters live in underground dens.

Fur trapping in the 19th century brought river otter populations to very low populations, but they have returned to the healthy waterways and lakes of the Pacific Northwest. River otters are sensitive to water pollution. They will disappear from areas with high human populations if the waterways are compromised.

Using cleaners made from everyday ingredients like baking soda, rubbing alcohol and vinegar helps keep pollutants out of waterways where otters live. Store-bought products used to clean laundry, surfaces and dishes often contain chemicals that can poison wildlife and contaminate ecosystems. Get cleaner recipes here. Please join our efforts to secure a future for this species by donating to our conservation fund.

Spotted-Necked Otter

This otter received its name due to the motled spots of white fur on its neck against its water-repellent chocolate brown to reddish fur. Its paws are webbed, they are equipped with claws and have small teeth. Their tails are flattened and tapered at the tip.

Habitat/Range:

They are quite aquatic animals and never venture far from water. They prefer large lakes, rivers, and swamps. They live in sub-Saharan Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa.

Size:

Weight: 6-11 lbs. Length: 22-27 in.

These animals are quite social and will live in groups of 20.

Least Concern. These animals are declining in number due to human activities which has led to pollution and degradation of their freshwater habitats. They have also been hunted for their meat and fur in addition to being considered a competitor for fish. Greater awareness needs to be spread in order to protect these animals as well as enforcing the existing laws in place to protect them.

Conservation Actions:

They are technically protected in all national parks, and efforts are being made to educate more people about the role of these otters in their ecosystem.

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