River Otter

A river otter lying on a rock and eating a fish in the Strait of Juan de Fuca
A river otter feasts on a fish near the northern coast of the peninsula.

Ken and Mary Campbell

River Otter - Lutra canadensis

River otters are common along the Pacific coastal section of the park, where they are often mistaken for sea otters. Much smaller than sea otters, the weigh about 30 pounds. They have small ears, plenty of whiskers, and are generally brown with silvery bellies. Their webbed feet allow them to be the excellent swimmers that they are.

River otters are often found on lakeshores, riverbanks, and the outer coast of the peninsula. They are commonly seen in intertidal areas close to shore where they forage for food. River otters spend much less time in the water than sea otters do.

River otters feed mainly on crayfish, fish, and small rodents.

Role in the Ecosystem:
Cute, cuddly, and carnivorous! River otters are an important species to indicate if an environment is healthy. They are carnivores, so they can only survive if the proper food lower on the food chain is available in healthy quantities. They hunt and live in a variety of habitats from wetlands to streams and will even venture into the ocean.

Fun Fact:
River otters can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes! That is even longer than a sea otter, which holds its breath for up to 5 minutes.

Back to Terrestrial Mammal Species List
Back to Marine Mammal Species List

Last updated: September 8, 2020

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