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Where Do Otters Live?

River otters can be found all across the United States except for in the desert and the Florida Keys. They live in both freshwater and slightly salty, brackish habitats. As their name suggests, they inhabit rivers, but they also inhabit lakes, as well.

River otters choose their habitat based on how much food and shelter they can find. As a result, their habitat can change depending on the season. For example, they will move from temporarily flooded marshes to cypress swamps that have permanent ponds. They make their dens in bank burrows, under trees and stumps, or in thick vegetation.

Do They Live in Groups?

River otters live in small family groups when they have a litter of pups. But river otters have strict territories which they protect from others of the same sex. Male territories can overlap with female ones but male territories will not overlap with another male territory. While families are made up of an adult female and her offspring, males also establish their own social groups. Males and females often construct separate hierarchies, tolerating each other but not accompanying one another. Young river otters love to play by wrestling and chasing each other. Although river otters do not have territories, different groups of otters tend to avoid each other.

What Is Their Habitat in the Wild Like?

The habitat of the river otter has two parts. They must have both a piece of land and water in order to survive. Because of these requirements, you will not find a river otter more than 110 yards away from a source of water. The water also needs to be quality water, if the water is highly populated the river otter will not be able to survive. Finally the land near the water has to provide sufficient shelter for the river otters. Since the otters keep their young on land, they need either vegetation or rock structures as shelters or dens. The Lontra Canadensis requires a large amount of space, often up to 50 miles. Development of cities, pollution, pesticides, and other man-made poisons destroys their habitat and decreases their numbers.

For more information, see the References and Further Reading page.