- Plan Your Visit
- Zoo Membership
- Event Calendar
- Schools & Camps
- Plan an Event
- Get Involved
Welcome to the Abilene Zoo’s webpage dedicated to the North American River Otter! The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is a playful and intelligent member of the weasel family, known for its acrobatic swimming skills and charming antics. Visit our Elm Creek Backyard to watch these delightful creatures in action. Let’s discover more about their diet, habitat, size, and conservation status, as well as some interesting facts that make the North American River Otter a true crowd-pleaser.
North American River Otters are primarily carnivorous, feeding on a wide variety of aquatic animals. Their diet consists mainly of fish, but they also consume amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, and even small mammals and birds. River otters have a high metabolism and must eat a significant portion of their body weight each day to maintain their energy levels.
North American River Otters inhabit a diverse range of aquatic environments, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and marshes, throughout much of the United States and Canada. They prefer habitats with abundant food sources and nearby vegetation or rocky areas that provide shelter and denning sites. River otters are highly adaptable and can also be found in coastal regions, brackish estuaries, and even high-elevation mountain lakes.
North American River Otters are medium-sized members of the weasel family, with a body length typically ranging from 26 to 42 inches (66 to 107 cm), including their tail. They generally weigh between 11 and 31 pounds (5 to 14 kg), with males being larger and heavier than females.
The North American River Otter is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Their population is considered stable across most of their range, although they have experienced declines in some regions due to habitat loss, water pollution, and trapping for their fur. Conservation efforts are in place to protect and restore otter populations in areas where they have declined.
During your visit to the Abilene Zoo, be sure to stop by our Elm Creek Backyard exhibit to observe the captivating North American River Otter. As you watch them swim and play, you’ll develop a newfound appreciation for these energetic and charismatic creatures.