Maryland’s only otter is a stocky, muscular member of the weasel family who prefers life on the shores of deep, clear rivers, lakes, marshes and bays. These aquatic mammals are common throughout Maryland tidewater areas and are found irregularly in the remainder of the state.
Otters have thick fur, streamlined bodies and short, powerful legs with webbed feet. While the record size for a northern river otter is 33 pounds and 54 inches, they average 18 pounds and 40 inches long, with males about 17 percent larger than females.
Social, playful and primarily nocturnal, otters remain active year round. They are nearsighted above water and use sound, touch and smell to communicate with each other. Their long, stiff facial whiskers detect prey movements – mostly fish and other aquatic life - in murky water.
Otters do not make dens, but use natural shelters or old dens of other animals such as beaver and muskrat. Otters breed in February but the young – a litter of one to four pups -- are not born until spring of the following year -- due to delayed implantation of the fertilized egg. The young remain with the family for about a year.
Photograph of River Otters
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