It makes its home in a burrow near the water's edge, and can thrive in river, lake, swamp, or estuary ecosystems. 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. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Find river otters, and you will find healthy streams and rivers. These furry water lovers hunt mostly at night, following the scent of fish even into urban areas. They are a native species that have a fairly large range over North America being found close to any coasts and waterways. 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. The cubs will remain with the parents through the first winter, but separate the next spring. The North American river otter has many natural predators but typically can avoid them by escaping quickly to a burrow or to water. They are a top predator and their presence also reflects the health of the ecosystem around them. Outside of fish, river otters will also eat crustaceans, insects, birds, oysters, shellfish, turtles and a number of other aquatic life. 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. Otters are large river mammal in the subfamily Lutrinae that can grow up to 30+ pounds and almost 4 feet long. The embryos do not begin development until about eight months later, and 50 days after that, the young are born. Normally, during a winter here at John Ball Zoo, our North American river otters can still be on exhibit in the cold and snow. Food. Birds and birds’ eggs, as well as small terrestrial mammals may also be eaten. The playful North American river otter is equally at home in the water and on land. 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. 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. Sometimes they eat aquatic plants. 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. While North American River otters are rather high up on the food chain, they do in fact have several natural predators. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Otters eat a variety of small aquatic organisms such as fish, clams, muskrats, and turtles. 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. River otters prefer to eat non-game fish species, so in a healthy ecosystem they don’t compete with human fishermen. Despite its common name, the North American river otter is equally comfortable in either coastal marine or freshwater habitats. North American River Otters. 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. The North American river otters are carnivores, they eat mainly aquatic animals such as amphibians, turtles, fish, crayfish, crabs, and other species of invertebrates. 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