It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. Sometimes they eat aquatic plants. Normally, during a winter here at John Ball Zoo, our North American river otters can still be on exhibit in the cold and snow. While North American River otters are rather high up on the food chain, they do in fact have several natural predators. Otters eat a variety of small aquatic organisms such as fish, clams, muskrats, and turtles. Outside of fish, river otters will also eat crustaceans, insects, birds, oysters, shellfish, turtles and a number of other aquatic life. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Find river otters, and you will find healthy streams and rivers. It is not uncommon for anglers to have to fight river otters … Otters are large river mammal in the subfamily Lutrinae that can grow up to 30+ pounds and almost 4 feet long. River otters prefer to eat non-game fish species, so in a healthy ecosystem they don’t compete with human fishermen. North American river otters are built for speed, agility, and staying warm and wary near shorelines full of prey… and predators. Last, but not least, North American river otters are considered a keystone species, which means other species in the same habitat largely depend on the existence of river otters. They are a top predator and their presence also reflects the health of the ecosystem around them. They are a native species that have a fairly large range over North America being found close to any coasts and waterways. The North American river otter has many natural predators but typically can avoid them by escaping quickly to a burrow or to water. The embryos do not begin development until about eight months later, and 50 days after that, the young are born. Occurs over most of North America, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south to FL, TX, and CA; however, it is absent now in much of the southern plains and the desert region. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a semiaquatic mammal in the weasel family.While it may simply be called the "river otter" in North America (to distinguish it from the sea otter) there are other river otter species throughout the world. Birds and birds’ eggs, as well as small terrestrial mammals may also be eaten. Some otters meet their demise in the jaws of coyotes, bobcats, lynx, and wolves on land and occasionally by transient killer whales in the sea. Food. The cubs will remain with the parents through the first winter, but separate the next spring. These furry water lovers hunt mostly at night, following the scent of fish even into urban areas. North American River Otters. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. How to Get Rid of Otters - Otters are adorable river creatures that are native to the North American continent that prefer colder areas with cold freshwater. North American River Otters are the charismatic clowns (and the largest members) of the weasel family, well-known for their playful antics and excellent swimming abilities. The North American river otters are carnivores, they eat mainly aquatic animals such as amphibians, turtles, fish, crayfish, crabs, and other species of invertebrates. North American River otters may be commonly found throughout much of sub-Arctic Canada, Alaska, and, within the contiguous United States, in the Pacific Northwest and along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico.