Interesting Facts About Otters That You Need to Know

By Stef Zisovska
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Interesting Facts About Otters That You Need to Know

Stef Zisovska
 
Otters are fascinating and highly specialized creatures.
Otters are fascinating and highly specialized creatures.
 
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Otters are cute-looking animals that have extremely fun behavior patterns. Many people go out to try and observe them in their natural habitats. Here are some interesting facts about otters. Let’s get started!

There are 13 otter species in the world and all but one of them are decreasing

Numbers of otters are decreasing more and more each year
Numbers of otters are decreasing more and more each year

The river otter, which lives in North American rivers, seems to be the only species of otter of which numbers are increasing. The other twelve otter species are decreasing more and more each year. Among the most endangered are those that live on the coast of California all the way up to Alaska. The main reason for their disappearance is water pollution. The marine otters that live on the South American coast are rapidly dying out because of illegal hunting.

Otters are sacred animals, according to the Zoroastrians

“The dogs of the rivers and seas”
“The dogs of the rivers and seas”

The ancient Persian religion founded in the 6th century B.C. taught that otters are the dogs of the rivers and seas. The religion had special rules to protect otters and ban any type of abuse of them.

Otter poop has its own name

Otter poop is known by the name “spraint,” and they use the smell of it to communicate with each other. They are extremely organized animals and like to keep things inside their communities clean, so they have designated places that they use as toilets. Spraints are not just different from any other scat because of the name, but also because they smell nice. Otters are the only animals that have pleasantly-scented poop, and that’s one more reason to love them. Each otter’s spraint has a slightly different smell, which enables them to communicate easily. The scent of an otter’s spraint determines the animal’s age, sex, and reproductive period. Every otter can eat 15% of their weight on a daily basis because they have an extra-fast metabolism.

Female otters love to adopt pups

Otters are great moms! They easily accept and take care of other females’ pups just like they are their own. They love raising pups, and a female never rejects a little one that needs a mother.

They are the proud owners of the thickest fur in the entire animal kingdom

North American river otters have an undercoat makes sure they stay warm and dry at any time- Authors: Dmitry Azovtsev – CC BY-SA 3.0
North American river otters have an undercoat makes sure they stay warm and dry at any time- Authors: Dmitry Azovtsev – CC BY-SA 3.0

These cute animals have more than a million hairs per square inch, which makes them the hairiest animals in the world. All otter species have two layers of fur: one is called the undercoat and the other is the fur coat we see. The undercoat makes sure they stay warm and dry at any time while the outer coat traps air between the skin and the fur. The pups have so much trapped air that it’s not possible for them to dive but only float on the water surface.

They use tools to prepare their food

Otters always hunt underwater.
Otters always hunt underwater.

Otters always hunt underwater, and their favorite things to eat are shelled animals. Their claws and teeth are not strong enough to break the shells, so they use tools instead. They hit the shell with a rock until it breaks; grownups usually carry a rock under their arm so they have it ready when needed.

Otters are an important symbol in Native American culture as they represent honesty and loyalty. The Native Americans were very offended when the Europeans started hunting and killing otters for their fur.

Giant otters like to talk

Giant ottersmake 22 different noises that refer to 22 different situations – Author: Calle Eklund – CC BY-SA 3.0
Giant ottersmake 22 different noises that refer to 22 different situations – Author: Calle Eklund – CC BY-SA 3.0

Giant otters like to talk more than any otter species. They make 22 different noises that refer to 22 different situations. The pups even have 11 more distinct sounds that they only use while they’re little, which is similar to human baby talk. Most of the noises they make are to warn each other if a human or other threat is approaching.

Otters and humans can work together

These smart animals work together with the fishermen in Bangladesh, and they have done for centuries. The fishermen train the otters to chase entire fish schools into fishing nets.

What’s the name for a group of otters?

If otters get into a group on the shore they’re called a romp, while a group in the water is called a raft.

Otters love to play

A giant otter from Venezuela. Otters are beautiful, intelligent animals, – Author: The Photographer – CC BY-SA 3.0
A giant otter from Venezuela. Otters are beautiful, intelligent animals, – Author: The Photographer – CC BY-SA 3.0

These animals are extremely playful and know how to have fun. They build slides on the river banks and play for hours. They only spend all their time either sleeping or feeding when they’re pups, and as soon as they grow up they play all day long.

Otters are beautiful, intelligent animals, and you can find them in almost every part of the States where there’s a river, or along the Pacific coast. We need to help protect them from extinction!

 
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