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Order - Carnivora
Family - Mustelidae

River Otter Description

Otter have long, slender bodies with relatively short legs. The neck is long and muscular, as is the tapered tail. Otter fur is considered as a short haired fur. Guard hair lengths are about one inch with under fur lengths of about 3/4 inch.Coloration is brown, with chocolate colors common in southern states, and darker colors common in northern states. Otter from all areas are lighter in color on cheeks, throats and bellies.

Males are larger than females. Adult males may measure 48 inches in length, and weigh up to 25 pounds. Adult females are usually 4 to 6 inches shorter, and seldom weigh more than 19 pounds.

There are 5 toes on each foot. A web of skin connects the toes on each foot. Claws are strong and nonretractable. Otter have 36 teeth, including 4 long and sharp canine teeth. Valves are present in an otter's nose and ears which close automatically as the otter submerges.

A pair of anal musk glands are present on both males and females. This musk can be released when the otter is frightened, but it is not as offensive as the musk of other members of the mustelid, or weasel, family.

River Otter Range
-for northeastern North America (click on map for larger image)


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