The adorable otter is charismatic, playful and quite talkative, and today we’re taking a deeper dive into their habitats. behaviors and more, including where to find them at Discovery Cove. Here are 10 fun facts about the otter:
There are 13 Species of Otters and Only 1 is Thriving
The North American River Otter is the only otter species that seems to be thriving. The other 12 were recently identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as having decreasing populations, and five otter species are already on the endangered list.
Ancient Religion Thinks Otters Are Sacred
Zoroastrians considered otters to be the dogs of the river or sea. They had strict rules forbidding the killing of otters. The ancient religion thought that otters helped keep water purified by eating already dead animals that might contaminate the water source.
They Have Very Thick Fur
Otters don’t just have thick fur, they have the thickest fur of any mammal in the animal kingdom. Otters can have up to one million hairs per square inch. There are two layers of fur, an undercoat and then longer hairs. The layers trap air next to the otter’s skin, which keeps them dry and warm and helps with buoyancy.
Baby Otters Are Buoyant
Because of all of that fur, otter pups have so much air trapped they actually can’t dive under water. They are buoyant but still can’t swim on their own. A mother will wrap them in seaweed to keep them in one place while she hunts.
Giant Otters Are Talkative
Giant otters can make 22 distinct noises. Pups have 11 of their own calls. Amongst the most notable calls: a “hum gradation” used to tell otters to change direction and a “Hah!” which they shout when a threat is nearby.
They Love Playtime
In between feeding and sleeping, otters love to play and will often build themselves slides along the banks of the rivers.
They Go By Several Different Names
Groups of otters have several names, all of which are unique to the crew. Generally, a group of otters on land is called a romp, and a group in the water is called a raft or bevy.
They Are Popular in Native American Cultures
Some tribes consider otters to be lucky animals and a symbol of “loyalty and honesty.” But some view the river otter “with awe and dread” and associate the creature with the undead and drowning.
Otters Collaborate with Humans
In Bangladesh, otters help fisherman fish. For centuries fisherman have been training otters to act as herders and chase large schools of fish into the nets.
California Sea Otters Divide Themselves In Diet Guilds
The California sea otter have divided eating habits. The otters, which need to consume 25 to 35 percent of their body weight every day to maintain metabolism, are divided into three “dietary guilds”: deep-diving otters done on abalone, urchins and Dungeness crab; medium divers eat clams, worms and smaller shellfish; and shallower dwellers consume black snails.
You can watch the playful otters inter natural habitat in The Freshwater Oasis at Discovery Cove.