otters: have you heard about them?

Let us introduce you to an animal that eats not only snakes, crabs, caimans and tortoises, but also any powerful animal is helpless in front of it.
The Caimans from alligator family and the jaguar, which is the most powerful member of Canidae, try to stay away from this small-sized but powerful animal.
what’s special about this animal?
Otters belong to the family Mustelidae which is a diverse family with its members characterized by short legs, small feet and large necks. This family also comprises stoat, honey badger, badger and weasels. The members of the family Mustelidae are very brave and efficient predators. They are capable of capturing and killing prey as large as they are, or even bigger than them. For example, a stoat can prey on a rabbit larger than its size.

(Fearless Honey Badgers also belong to Otter's family Mustelidae)

Types of otters
Otters are of three main types further classified into 13 species found in every part of the world except Australia and Antarctica.

  1. Marine Otters
    Marina otter is a rare animal that usually lives on rocky coasts with abundant flora. It is found along the southern coasts of South America. They eat sea urchins, snails, clams, abalone, mussels, crabs, scallops, fish, barnacles, octopus, worms, and squid etc and keep their population in control.
( a marine otter is resting in water)
  1. Sea Otters
    Found in parts of oceans where Kelp forests are present. Kelp is large brown algae that live in cool, relatively shallow waters close to the shore and produce 70% of the oxygen on earth.
(Sea Otter is enjoying fish)
  1. Semi- Equatic Otters
    These otters are well adapted for semi-aquatic life. Luckily two of its species are also found in Pakistan namely the Smooth-coated otter and Euro Asian otter. The former is found in Sindh provice while the latter is restricted to the Himalayan region.
    The largest semi-equatic otter is The Giant Otter and is only restricted to swamps along River Amazon in South America.
( a group of Smooth Coated Otters in Pakistan)

The Giant Otter
It is the longest species of otters and can grow up to 5 feet in size. The Giant Otter has webbed feet which help in swimming while long and strong claws are used to dig burrows. They also have a long tail which is used as a balancing organ and also helps in steering.
Giant otters have a characteristic thick fur with 10 hundred thousand hair per inch which gives them waterproof properties. Their young ones have thicker fur which can accumulate air. Air helps to keep them floating in the water.

They also have whiskers (sensory hair) which are used to detect the movement of other animals in water and also to locate food.
Experts have even discovered that the otter sends a bubble into the water and pulls it back into the nose, which can detect the smell of fish, meaning it can even smell in the water. It can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes. They have white colour marking on their chest which helps them to recognize each other.

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Otter as a predator
Otters are quite skilled hunters. They are mostly found in groups that’s why other hunters avoid hunting them.
Otters may hunt Caimans in groups and begin feeding on the back of caiman’s neck.
They can also feed on snapping turtle which has high biting power. They are daring enough to prey on Anacondas, and the jaguar which is the most powerful Canidae and usually avoids confrontation with otters.

( a caiman is trying to stay out of trouble)

Interesting facts about otters

  1. Otter is a highly territorial animal and marks its territory with urine and faeces (Spraint). It never allows intruders entry in its area.
  2. Otters are usually found in a group of 6 to 8 members. They mostly prey on fishes like catfish and piranha (known for their razor-sharp teeth and relentless bite).
  3. They usually form dens along the bank of rivers and streams. The body is streamlined and adapted for the fossorial mode of life.
  4. Gestation period is three month and the female gives birth to a single offspring.
  5. Otter is an intelligent animal and can break shells off of animals using stones and rocks.
  6. Otters produce sounds like a human baby in fear and danger.
  7. Otters may invade human dwellings and be also found to attack them.
(Baby otters are called pups or kittens)

Otter’s role in environment
Otters keep a check and balance on the population of animals which mostly feed on aquatic plants so directly or indirectly otters protect them.
Otters are in danger
There are many species of otter in the world but due to hunting, Giant otter is in great danger of extinction. which fact did u like about otters? please comment below.

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