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River Otters Scramble Squares®
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Fascinating Facts about River Otters Scramble Squares®
River otters are aquatic mammals that are members of the weasel family, closely related to mink and ferrets. They have a strong, musky scent and are found in and around rivers, estuaries, marshes and wetlands. River otters are powerful and graceful swimmers that love to frolic in the water. Their fur is warm and thick, and their noses and ears have valves that otters close to keep the water out so that they can remain submerged for up to four minutes. They swim by whipping their long slender bodies up and down in the water, while paddling with their webbed hind feet and using their strong tails as steering rudders. River otters are intelligent animals that seem to take advantage of any opportunity to play, often sledding on their bellies headfirst down a muddy hill or an icy river bank, while keeping their front paws pressed to their sides to improve their speed! One slide can be as long as 20 feet (6 meters) and may reach a speed of 18 miles (29 kilometers) an hour!

River otters are members of the Mustelidae family of the Order Carnivora. They are the canadensis species of the genus Lutra and are believed to have been on earth for 30 million years. There are 13 species of otters. They live on every continent, except for Antarctica and Australia. As their name implies, river otters generally live along rivers, but they are also found near streams and lakes and will travel overland to habitats that are quite far from water. Their movement on land appears very awkward. They repeatedly arch and lower their long bodies by pushing up with their four short legs, looking like giant “inch worms” as they traverse the land. They are active during the daylight, feeding on fish, frogs, crayfish, salamanders, snakes, clams, snails, turtles, birds and insects. When otters catch large fish, they haul them onto shore to dine. River otters build their dens by tunneling into river banks and lining the end of the tunnel with grass. Their nests are made inside their dens out of leaves, sticks and grass. Otters have two to three pups in late spring which, when they reach adulthood, will each weigh about 20 pounds (9 kg) and will grow to about two and a half feet (76 cm) long. Born blind and helpless, they are nursed by the mother otter for a month before venturing out of the den, where their mother teaches them to swim and hunt. River otters communicate with one another with chirps, chatter, squeals, chuckles and warning growls.

River otters are at the top of their environment’s food chain. Otter cubs could fall prey to predators such as wolverines, coyotes and wolves, but this seldom occurs because of the otter cub’s close protection by its mother. The principal threat to river otters has been from human beings, who have polluted or destroyed the river otter’s habitat. For example, the State of Missouri had only about 70 wild otters remaining in the mid 1930s. In 1982, the Missouri Department of Conservation began restoring wild otters to Missouri's wetlands, rivers and streams and achieved a restored population of over 10,000 river otters, living in almost every watershed area throughout Missouri.

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Tel: (310) 374-3000 · Fax: (310) 318-6692 · E Mail: info@b-dazzle.com
 

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