Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Special Little Swimers
The otter is one of my favorite animals not only because its cute but because it is interesting. The otters we saw at the zoo are North American River Otters(Lontra Canadensis) which obviously live in North America as the name says. They can be found in most rivers throughout the entire continent and exist here in Ohio. They usually eat fish, crayfish, and crabs since they spend most of their time in the water but can occasionally eat small birds and rodents. They are very specialized for water life and are able to close their ears and nose, have a clear third eyelid called a nictitating membrane, webbed feet, and they can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes. They also have claws that are useful if they happen to venture onto land or need to build their dens.
In a recent study researchers studied the patterns of these otters moving throughout Minnesota. A group of otters was monitered for multiple seasons and things such as time of day, temperature, weather etc. were observed. The otters were most active in the evening and least active around mid-day. It was also found that there was more activity during mating season and less during winter. Although there was less winter activity in general there was more foraging for food probably because of the increased energy needs for temperature regulation. There was also increased activity in males compared to females. Although the authors hypothesize that it may be because of differing diets, or different energy needs they did not test these hypotheses.
Zoo otter info
Otter research study