River Otter

Lutra canadensis

River Otter


River otters can grow to 1.4 metres long and weigh about 13.5 kilograms. They have the longest lasting fur of the entire otter/weasel family, and have been hunted for fur in many areas across North America. They have strong webbed feet for swimming, a long strong tail and thick claws. They usually have dark fur with a lighter belly.

Range & Habitat

River otters can be found throughout Canada and mid-southern US. Their common habitat is lakes, streams and coastal marshes. In B.C., this animal is found in the Georgia Depression and Coast and Mountain ecoprovinces.

Diet & Behaviour

Their favourite foods are fish, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, birds and insects.

Lifecycle & Threats

River otters give birth to two or three “kits” and the mom looks after them until they are 12 or 13 months old. They have “delayed implantation,” meaning that after the egg is fertilized it stays in the uterus of the mother for nine months until it attaches and begins to grow. River otters can live up to five years. Their greatest threats are habitat destruction, pollution in the water, and trapping for fur. They are hunted by bald eagles, some bears and coyotes.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

Photo: Tim Fitzharris