Otters are incredibly awesome and adorable especially when they are being watched exhibiting their intelligent and fascinating behaviors. In fact most of us get lost in their unique intelligence and characteristics that we forget there are other facts about this charming mammal. I mean fascinating facts which are not known by many that we need to familiarize ourselves with. That is why we bring you some of the interesting lesser known facts about the stunning creature. Read on to see them below:
Otters Have the Most Dense Fur and One of the Most Valuable Fur of All
Sea otters have the thickest fur of all animals. They have as many as 1 million hairs in every square inch of their most dense body part, and they need every strand of hair as they are the only marine mammals that don’t have a layer of blubber as insulation against the freezing ocean water. However, it is not every part of their bodies that has so much hair. Places such as their paws dont have plenty of hairs, which is one of the many reasons they hold their paws up when sleeping –so to avoid water touching them and to conserve body heat.
Of course too much hair needs good grooming, so the animals spend most of their time eating, sleeping or grooming. Once they are not eating resting or sleeping, they are usually busy grooming themselves to look good. They groom their furs to remain dry and as warm as possible.
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Sea Otters Hold Hands
Yes, Sea Otters hold hands so they don’t drift apart from each other. Usually, a mother and pup will cling to each other while sleeping to avoid drifting apart from one another. However when sea Otters are not holding hands while sleeping, they are using kelp instead, by wrapping themselves in long strands of kelp. They prefer to use long stands of Kelp which grow from the sea floor all the way up to the surface of the water as a mainstay to sleep without fear of drifting out to the open ocean.
How Big Are Otters When They Are Born?
Baby Otters can be as long as their mothers at birth making it difficult to differentiate the pups from the mothers. Many people who are not aware that the males and females stay separated often assume this is a couple rather than a mother and a pup.
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Mothers Groom Their Babies
Remember we said sea Otters take time grooming themselves? Mother sea Otters have double jobs of grooming to carry out. This is because she has to groom both herself and her fluffy baby. Baby Otters can’t groom themselves, and when their furs are not properly groomed, it can become tangled with pollutants, and this of course won’t let their skin warm and dry. So their mothers groom their own furs as well their babies’ furs which is no easy task.
What Are Baby Otters Called?
Baby otters are incredibly adorable with cute names. They are called pups but can also be called kits or kittens. Whatever name you choose to call them, just know they are generally called charming!
Other Names Otters Are Called:
There are so many names for a group of otters including a bevy, family, lodge. They can also be called a romp depending on what their energy level and antics might entail. A group of Otters in water are best referred to as a raft. Male Otters are called boars, while females are called sows.
Also, Otters’ hidden homes are called a special name (or two). Their resting places are known as a hover or a couch, which are usually a bit bigger than a bed of reeds. They also use what’s referred to as a holt, tiny underground dens where Otters can take shelter, escape danger and where females raise their young ones.
The Life Cycle of an Otter
It takes Pregnant Otters 60 to 86 days to have their babies. The newborn pup is often cared for by the mother, father and older offspring. Female Otters become sexually mature at about 2 years old while the males are at 3 years old. After one month of birth, the newborn pup can leave the holt and after two months, it is able to swim. The pup lives with its family for about one year. Otters live up to 10 or more years.
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Sea Otters Aren’t River Otters:
Often times, people mistake river Otters as pictured above for Sea Otters. But it is important to note that river otters and sea otters are not the same creatures. They differ both in size and locations where they are found. For example River otters though can swim and hunt in sea water, live essentially in fresh water while sea Otters live only in the ocean along on the coastline. And speaking of size, Sea Otters are bigger than most species of river otter, and are in fact the most massive of all Otter species.
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Generally, Otters Eat Too Much Food:
Not just giant otters, all species of Otters love food. They all have big appetites and they require plenty of food to help quick metabolism. They eat about 15-25% of their whole body weight in food per day. To ensure there is sufficient food to satisfy their hunger, Otters can spend about 5 hours every day searching widely for food.
River otters basically eat fish, based on what Defenders of Wildlife revealed. They eat anything and everything they can get with ease. Things like crustaceans, mollusks, insects, birds, oysters, shellfish, crabs, crayfish, frogs, rodents, turtles and aquatic invertebrates while Sea Otters play a significant role in the coastal ocean ecosystem by feeding on a diversity of fish and crustaceans, but importantly, they feed on urchins that eat kelp. Thus sea otters help in keeping kelp forests healthy since urchin populations would be experiencing constant rise while kelp will decline greatly.
Species Found Around the World
Apart from countries like Australia and Antarctica, Otters can be found in almost all the continents in the world . In all, there are 13 different species of Otters found around the world (not just river otters and sea otters). From small Asian small-clawed Otters estimated at 2-3 feet in length, to the massive Otters which are about 5-5.5 feet in length. However, IUCN reveals that 12 of the 13 Otter species except North American river Otters are threatened or endangered and as a result, the population of the animal is decreasing dramatically.
The Giants of River Otters
The giant otter which lives mainly along Amazon river and the Pantanal is a specie that can exclusively be seen in South America. They are the longest of all otter species. But the sea otter is the heaviest otter species. The length of a giant otter can be up to 6 feet with weight as much as 75 pounds (on the contrary, sea otters can weigh almost 100 pounds). Giant otters eat a lot and can eat up six or nine pounds of food per day.
the giant otters are among the most vulnerable and endangered otters resulting from poaching for their velvet-like fur. Also, other conditions that place this animal at the risk of extinction include, habitat degradation, pesticides, pollution from mining, plus fishermen who normally regard the species a competitor. In as much it almost impossible to say the exact number of Otters in existence, experts estimate that only between 1,000-5,000 giant otters still walk this earth.
Otters Use Tools
Otters can find and play with small stones. Just like beavers, monkeys, and apes, Otters can create and use tools.
Otters Are Like Ecological Early Warning Systems:
River otters are to riparian habitats what sea otters are to a kelp forest. River otters require clean water and an abundance of prey, therefore they are sensitive to interference in river systems. Clean water can be disrupted by increase in pollutants, or a loss of prey resulting from habitat destruction, or habitat fragmentation along waterways, however one thing is certain, Otters can no longer be seen, chances are there is something that works against kilter in the ecosystem.
Do Otters Love Water Or Land More?
Well, all species of Otters except Sea Otters spend most of their time on land. They love to stay more on land than in the water but Sea Otters spend nearly all of their time in water.
The Most Scarce Otter Of All The Species
The hairy-nosed otter is a tiny specie in Asia. The specie is very rare or scarce that it was really assumed to be extinct until in 1998 when small populations were found including one seen in Malaysia in 2010, utilizing remote camera traps. It was believed to be gone from that area for about a century ago. Well, the specie is yet to go on extinct as about 86 or more hairy-nosed otters are said to still exist in southeast Asia, but it is hard to come across this specie.
Otters Are Very Fast Swimmers
Otters have a very high swimming speed even though river otters are born without any swimming knowledge. Yes, you read it right, river otters are taught how to swim by their mothers in spite of the fact that they are born in the water. Generally, Otters have a strong flattened tail which they use to steer through the water with ease. They also have webbing between their toes as well. Otters can close their nostrils and ears in order to avoid water from entering them. They have sensitive whiskers which lead them to their prey even in the muddiest water. Otters have the ability to hold their breath for 3-4 minutes at a time while they swim, and can swim at speeds of 6.8 miles per hour. Now that’s real swimming speed and good learning skill!
Some Species of Otters Have No Claws!
While most otters have sharp claws at the end of each toe normally used for grabbing prey, some species ( three) of otters have no claws at all or have ones that are not sharp. The names of the three species include, the Asian small-clawed otter, the African clawless otter, and the Congo clawless otter. Additionally, these species have a little webbing between their digits unlike other species and this with the shorter claws bestowed them with greater skills in using their paws to feed on smaller prey.