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River Otters

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary currently houses 2 river otters.  The North American River Otter is the only river otter found north of Mexico.  The fur of the otter ranges from grey and white to brown and black.  The river otter has been hunted for hundreds of years for their fur, which is waterproof and luxurious. 

Otters can grow to over 3 feet in length and weigh anywhere from 11-30 lbs.  In the wild, otters can live to 14 years, while in captivity they can live for 25 years.  Their diet consists of primarily fish, but can also eat crustaceans, mollusks, insects, birds, shellfish, frogs and rodents.  They can be found in streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and canals.

Amazingly, river otters can stay underwater for up to eight minutes, close their ears and nostrils and dive to 60 feet in depth. 

Litters are usually 2-3 pups and social groups are usually adult females and their pups.  There may also be groups of individual males.

River Otters

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary's River Otters:

  • Jelly – adult male, illegal pet
  • Harriett – adult female, raised at a different facility, accustomed to people, now a permanent resident at BWS

Do otters bite?  Yes, otters can bite, which is why we advise guests to keep their hands out of the fence and remain behind the rail

When are they most active? Otters are most active at night.  They are very social animals and can be seen playing in the water, with the ball and running up and down the stairs of the enclosure, but you may have trouble spotting them at times.  Look in the grass, under the groundcover and you might spot them. 

* Nocturnal

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