Sunday, March 23, 2008
No, no... the North American River Otter may not be the Easter Bunny but it is fuzzy and cute. Located just about anywhere where there is an abundance of food and easy access to water such as near rivers and lakes, these dark brown, thickly furred creatures live in freshwater habitats including marshes and swamps. Though they are tolerant to many environments such as cold and warm climates and higher elevations, they tend to dislike pollution and will move to another cleaner area if large amounts of human trash and waste begin to overrun their home.
Sea otters build dens under logs and in river banks and even burrow dens where other animals once lived. These dens have underwater tunnels that lead to nests made from leaves, moss, grass and hair.
Known as excellent swimmers, these guys have clawed feet that are completely webbed, suitable for swimming underwater as they hunt for food, usually fish, crabs, amphibians and sometimes aquatic plants. Because otters move just as easily on land and in water, they usually eat small birds as well. This also comes in handy when they themselves are the prey, enabling them to dive into a nearby river or lake when being pursued. River otters can stay underwater for as long as eight minutes and can be seen playing games with each other in and out of the water.
Though the North American River Otter can be seen around this area, they have been virtually wiped out in some areas of the mid-west and eastern parts of the United States.
So, the next time you're here visiting the Tennessee Aquarium, stop by the Cove Forest and visit our two friendly otters. They may not hide Easter eggs and give away chocolate candy, but they do bring the gift of laughter as you're entertained by their curious and playful antics.