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River Otter


  • River Otters historically occupied much of the North American continent.
  • Changes in habitat, settlement and over harvest in some areas resulted in the river otter being totally removed in some areas of the state of Tennessee.
  • Restocking efforts have restored river otter populations in most areas of the state.
  • Highly intelligent and extremely curious.
  • Tail is used for balance while on land.
  • Otters appear clumsy when navigating on dry land.
  • Largest semi-aquatic predator found in Tennessee.
  • Expert swimmers and divers and may remain underwater for several minutes if necessary.
  • Ordinarily shy, low profile creatures that are rarely seen.
  • Notorious wanderers, range over several miles in a waterway.
  • Dens are typically located near waterways under tree roots, rock piles, logs or thickets, sometimes they will take over beaver lodges or muskrat dens after killing occupants.
  • Litter size varies from one to five.

Physical Characteristics

  • Has a long cylindrical body, head is blunt, characterized by short snout with bulbous nose.
  • Fur is short and very dense, ranging in color from dark chocolate brown to light brown.

Eating Habits

Most of the river otters diet is fish, crawfish, amphibians, insects, birds and mammals.