The sea otter is the second smallest marine mammal and is the largest member of the weasel family. These animals are native to the coasts of eastern and northern North Pacific Ocean. Sea otters normally weigh around 14 to 45 kg (31 to 99 lb).
They have the thickest coat in the entire animal kingdom which serves as the supreme source of insulation. They can walk on land but most of the time otters live in ocean. They are also the relatives of wolverines, badgers, and minks.
I’m bringing you all these and other useful sea otter facts for kids including sea otter diet, habitat, and reproduction. Sea otters are found in the offshore environments and they come to the surface to forage.
It primarily feeds on aquatic invertebrates including crustaceans, molluscs, fish species, and sea urchins. Sea otters have a striking eating and foraging ability in that they employ different techniques to disengage their prey. It is often sighted to use rocks in order to displace its prey which is unusual for mammals.
According to a modern study, there are around 13 otter species inhabiting all continents other than Australia and Antarctica.
Many sea otters are known to live in the marine coastal habitats but most of them are found in the rivers, lakes, or even on land. Two of these species are regarded as marine mammals.
Read More: Sea Otter Facts for Kids
Lutra feline is the marine sea otter that that inhabits the coastal zone of southern Argentina, Chile, and southern Peru. They are often found breeding on the rocky shores together with feeding on small crustaceans grabbed from nearshore marine waters.
One of the strange facts about sea otters is that they live their whole life in water free of contact with land. Sea otters engage in all the primary functions under water such as feeding, resting, socializing, birthing, and breeding. Few sea otter species emerge on land either for giving birth or for resting. However, sea otters are typically marine mammals.
Sea Otter Facts For Kids
- Sea otter is the heaviest mustelid with the weight measuring at 22 – 45 kg (49 – 99 lb) in males; and the length measures around 1.2 – 1.5 m (3 ft 10 in to 4 ft 10 in). Some specimens weighing up to 54 kg (120 lb) are also recorded.
- Males are larger than females. The weight of the female measures around 14 – 33 kg (31 – 73 lb), with the length reaching is 1.0 – 1.4 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 7 in).
- The sea otters lack blubbers and they solely depend on their dense fur to keep them warm. Around 150,000 strands of hair per centimeter exist on its fur making it the densest of any animal. This ensures a limited heat loss and the cold air is kept away most of the time.
- They shed all throughout the year instead of molting in a particular season.
- Sea otters can close its small ears and nostrils. They have wide-webbed feet that propel its body to swim.
- They are fast swimmers reaching a speed of about 9 km/h (5.6 mph).
- They have a hearing sense that is neither acute nor poor.
- The adult otter has 32 rounded teeth.
- Sea otters are diurnal and they begin eating and foraging in the morning followed by sleeping at noon. They start final foraging journey around midnight. The mothers of pups are likely to feed at night.
- Many sea otters have elongate lithe bodies, with four short limbs modified to varying degrees for swimming. They have dense fur composed of two hair types—guard hairs and denser, shorter underfur. The shorter hair is used to trap air against the skin while the otter is submerged; and therefore, it serves as an imperative function for conserving heat.
- Sea otter typically leads a limited life at sea as it has to face certain restraints which is also common for other marine mammals too. However, otters have developed many adaptations for living at sea. Their hind legs serve as flippers which seem like those of the harbor seals.
- Of all the otter’s species, sea otters are the supreme divers as well as swimmers and why wouldn’t they as they are known as ‘SEA OTTERS”. However, they cannot walk comfortably and swiftly on land.
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These animals often hunt in short dives and they mostly appear on the water surface. In general, sea otters can remain under water for about 2 – 3 minutes but they can hold breath for up to 5 minutes. They often dig deep to take snails and other like creatures from the mud.
Feeding Ecology and Diet
- Sea otters are known to consume around 20 – 25% of their daily weight. They eat almost 100 different kinds of prey species.
- They primarily feed on marine invertebrates such as bivalves, sea urchins, mussels, abalone, clams, crustaceans, snails, mollusks.
- The prey ranges from crabs and limpets to the giant octopuses. Sea otters consume 35 – 40 sea urchins per day. They use whiskers to pursue for food.
- The birth takes place all throughout the year but typically in the months of January and March in southern regions while in northern regions the birth occurs in May and June.
- The gestation period lasts for 4 – 12 months.
- The young otters weigh around 1,4 – 2.3 kg (3 – 5 lb). Sometimes, birth can lead to twin babies.
- The mother will nurse its pups for about 8 – 12 months
- The females reach the maturity age after 3 – 4 years; while males become mature at the age of 5.
- The maximum age of sea otters is about 23 years; with an average lifespan of 15 – 20 years.
Read More: Why are Sea Otters Endangered?
Predators | Sea Otter Facts For Kids
- Sea lions
- Bald eagles
- Great white sharks