The river otter, or Lutra vulgaris, is a medium-sized mammal and belongs to the marten family. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word “hydor”, meaning “water”, and literally translates to “aquatic animal”. It is a predator that lives in aquatic environments and has unique adaptations that allow it to cope well with this lifestyle.
The appearance of the river otter is characteristic of an animal that leads an aquatic lifestyle. It has an elongated and squat body of equal thickness throughout its length, as well as small, short webbed feet. Its fur is silvery or light colored underneath, while on the back and legs it is dark brown. The special structure of the hair cover allows the otter not to get wet in water. It molts in spring and summer, but its coloration does not change.
The river otter lives along the banks of rivers, lakes and streams. It prefers rivers with fast currents, rocky beds and rich in fish and diving ducks. It is much less common in quiet, overgrown rivers. Medium-sized rivers no more than 15 meters wide are optimal for the otter.
Hunting of the river otter has been banned since 1930, but its population is recovering slowly. This is due to various factors such as logging of forests and shrubs along the river banks, grazing in the floodplain, pollution of water bodies and poaching. Fishing nets are enemies of many aquatic animals and birds, including the otter.
Despite its small size, the river otter has amazing abilities. Scientists have noticed that it can hold its breath and stay underwater for up to two minutes. When it is on land, it moves in a sinuous manner, resembling the movements of a snake. And when she’s out on the ice, she almost glides across it.
It is a nocturnal animal, preferring to stay in its “home” during the day and going out to hunt at nightfall. River otters are solitary animals, although sometimes females may share a lifestyle with each other. They can live up to 10 years.
Scientists have been studying river otters for many years and have made interesting discoveries about their behavior and adaptations. For example, Professor Jonathan Warner from the University of Oxford has noticed that river otters have a unique skull bone structure that allows them to easily rise to the surface of the water after diving. They also found that otters can use rocks as tools for opening shells and cutting prey.
However, despite all the research and efforts of experts, conserving the river otter population remains a challenge. According to a study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the number of river otters in the world is declining due to habitat loss and pollution of water bodies.
– Name: river otter
– Latin name: Lutra vulgaris
– Family: Kunichnidae
– Size: Males weigh 8-10 kg, body length 48-90 cm; females weigh 6-10 kg, body length 54-70 cm.
– Coloration: Fur is silvery or light underneath, dark brown on back and legs.
– Lifestyle: Aquatic, prefers rivers with fast currents and rocky beds.
– Peculiarities: Can hold its breath and stay under water for up to two minutes; moves sinuously on land and almost glides on ice.