By the early 1900s, North American river otter populations had declined throughout large portions of their historic range in North America. There are 13 species of otters, in seven genera, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb).  The earliest known fossil of Lontra canadensis, found in the US Midwest, is from the Irvingtonian stage (1,800,000 to 300,000 years ago). The river otter is also threatened by pollution of streams and rivers as well as the destruction of the vegetation on the banks of water bodies.  The dental formula is 220.127.116.11.1.3.2. In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. These otters swim by propelling themselves with their powerful tails and flexing their long bodies.  Females usually do not reproduce until two years of age, although yearlings produce offspring on occasion. Swimming Abilities. In coastal areas, males may remain gregarious even during the estrous period of females. , Amphibians, where regionally accessible, have been found in the North American river otter's diet during the spring and summer months, as indicated in many of the food habit studies. 8. The pelage has a high luster and varies from light brown to black. They mainly eat fish but also frogs, crayfish and crabs, some species carry a rock to help smash open shellfish. The species is widely distributed throughout its range.  Fossils of a giant river otter dating back 3.5 Mya have been found in the US Midwest; however, fossils of the modern river otter did not appear in North America until about 1.9 Mya. River Otters are mammals that are relatives of the stoats, weasels, mink, badgers and wolverines. Sea otter moms adopt orphaned sea otter babies and take care of them. There have also been some reports of river otters attacking and even drowning dogs. River otters are not territorial, but individual North American river otters of different groups portray mutual avoidance. The otter is the largest member of the weasel family.  The North American river otter's nostrils and ears close during submersion, keeping water from entering them. North American river otters may be victims of canine distemper, rabies, respiratory tract disease, and urinary infection. North American river otters living in groups hunt and travel together, use the same dens, resting sites, and latrines, and perform allogrooming. When the pups are about two months old and their coats grow in, their mother introduces them to the water. Where they live: Starvation may occur due to excessive tooth damage. Males weigh up to 90 lbs. Otters love fish. The throat, chin, and lips are grayer than the rest of the body. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. , Oil spills present a localized threat to otter populations, especially in coastal areas. Even such fast-swimming species as trout become lethargic in extremely cold water, with a commensurate increase in their vulnerability to predation. Dec 7, 2016 - Explore Julie Light-Gregory's board "River Otter" on Pinterest.  small ears, and nostrils that can close underwater. Reintroduction projects have been particularly valuable in restoring populations in many areas of the United States. Musk from the scent glands may also be secreted when otters are frightened or angry. , The North American river otter is a stocky animal of 5 to 14 kilograms (11 to 31 lb), with short legs, a muscular neck (no smaller than the head) and an elongated body that is broadest at the hips. , North American river otters can produce a snarling growl or hissing bark when bothered, and a shrill whistle when in pain. 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