Frequently Asked Questions
Otternet has received hundreds of questions on otters from all over the world. We have selected below the most frequently asked questions for your benefit.
Q: What is the taxonomy of otters ?|
A: The following taxonomy is based on the classification of Corbet, G.B. and J.E. Hill (1980. A world list of mammalian species. British Museum and Cornell University Press.).
Superfamily - Canoidea (Arctoidea)
Family - Mustelidae
Subfamily - Lutrinae
Genus - Lutra, Pteronura, Aonyx or Enhydra
Species - See individual species profiles
Q: Who are predators to otters ?
A: The otter is at the top of the food chain and is not the normal diet of larger carnivores. The prime documented evidence of any predation is from white sharks with Sea Otters and bald eagles with Sea Otter pups. Even with these predators it is not a normal part of their diet. Recently it has also been suggested that killer whales have eaten Sea Otters, but if true it is not a typical part of the killer whales diet.
Otter cubs could also fall prey to predators such as jaguars or wolverines, but given their mothers protection this is limited, if it happens at all. Other threats to the otter (disease, survival until independence, hunting for fur, habitat destruction, pollution) are much larger threats to the otter than predators.
Q: How long do otters live ?
A: This is difficult to answer because in the wild a large number of the population (as with any animal) dies before maturity. A 1977 study indicated, for example, that only 27% of dead North American River Otters found were older than 2 years. The IOSF considers 4 years in the wild "lucky" for Eurasian Otters. Full potential life spans (for 2% of the population perhaps) can reach 10 years with a record 23 years documented for one otter in captivity.
Q: Why should we help otters ?
A: The otter can be used as a symbol for the survival of wetlands, oceans and waterways they inhabit. Over half of the otter species are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals as vulnerable, endangered, or insufficiently known. Their widespread distribution and public appeal due to their playful behavior and attractiveness (other than their smell!) makes the otter an ideal bio-indicator. As is typical of animals at the top of the food chain, otters are among the first species to disappear when the environment is pollute and congested. To quote the IUCN Otter Action Plan: "A world without otters is a world without pristine streams, without unsilted rain-forest rivers...without uncontaminated fish, crabs and aquatic life."