Eco-Activity #39: Otter vs… otter?

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Sea Otter or River Otter?

Whether river, lake, stream, or sea, waterways are important to protect and conserve! If it weren’t for wonderfully wet habitats, animals like otters wouldn’t have a place to call home.

It’s without a doubt that otters are some of the most adorable mammals around! From their curious faces to their playful personalities, the otters of the world have earned the title of many animal lovers’ favourite creatures. On top of that, otters also play a pivotal role in keeping aquatic ecosystems healthy. They are predators, which means they help control the populations of food species they prey upon. This affects the ecosystem as a whole, and as a result, their presence often signals that the ecosystem is healthy. From oceans to lakes, rivers, marshes, and ponds, any body of water is lucky to have otters to help keep everything in balance!

But this brings us to a conundrum that many seem to get themselves into. When it comes to distinguishing between river otters and sea otters…well, what is the difference, anyway? It can get otterly confusing trying to tell them apart!

Test your otter-identifying knowledge and see if you can tell the difference between the well-known sea otter and our animal of the week: the river otter! There are more differences between them than meets the eye. Can you spot them all? Get a high score on the quiz and receive a bonus code for the Earth Rangers App!

Here are some helpful hints:

Size: Many people don’t realize how much larger sea otters are compared to river otters! Sea otters can weight up to 100 pounds, while river otters are more petite, reaching a maximum size of only around 30 pounds.

Fur: River otters they have short, coarse fur made up of two layers: one for keeping them warm, and another ‘waterproof’ one outside of that. But sea otters have the densest fur in the entire animal kingdom with up to one million hairs covering each square inch of their body! The colouring of adult sea otters also tends to be lighter on their heads, throats, and chests while river otters are darker brown all over.

Tails: Sea otter tails are short and flat, while river otter tails are long and more pointed.

Swimming style: While both types of otter love to swim, their swimming behaviours are quite distinct. River otters lounge around riverbanks and swims with their bellies down, keeping the majority of their body submerged below the water. On the other hand, sea otters spend most of their time in the water floating on their backs, even while they’re eating, and have been known to hold hands with each other while sleeping so they don’t drift apart from their pals!

Family size: On average, river otters have two to three pups per litter, while sea otters usually have only one pup.

Baby care: River otters keep their babies safe by their side and in dens that they build on riverbanks, while sea otter moms keep their pups nestled on their stomachs as they float until they are old enough to swim on their own. They’re even known to wrap their babies in kelp to keep them safe and warm while they’re off hunting! Cute and creative!

Diet: River otter diets consist largely of crayfish, crabs, fish, and frogs. Sea otters, on the other hand, can be found feasting on slow-moving fishes and marine invertebrates including crabs, sea urchins, abalones, clams, mussels, and snails!

Thank you Otter lovers!! Wow! By enthusiastically signing up to help us protect the River Otter, you’ve cleared our in-house stock of this adorable plushie. More should be swimming our way soon! Once they’re here and ready for adoption, more will be added to our online and app estores. Stay tuned to our social media channels on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to find out when they are available again.

In the meantime, don’t forget that digital adoptions never sell out!

Today is the LAST DAY to get digital Wildlife Adoptions for only $5!

We extended this special 50% off discount in celebration of Earth Month. Not only will your purchase help support incredible animal-saving initiatives, you’ll also get

  • A virtual badge
  • A virtual animal to accompany your avatar on the home screen in the app
  • A cool bonus item for your avatar
  • A virtual adoption certificate

11 COMMENTS

  1. Before this I thought all otters looked the same. I did know that sea otters eat sea urchins tho.