River otters: 5 facts

River otters: 5 facts

5 things to know about river otters

** They're voracious eaters. The nocturnal members of the weasel family have been known to wipe out a pond's worth of catfish in one night, and aren't particularly fussy about food. Frogs, mussels, birds, small rodents — otters will eat them all.

** They may look cute and cuddly when sliding down banks on their bellies, but try to catch one and you may be sorry. They're territorial creatures with sharp teeth and stiff tails, and range in size from 10 to 25 pounds and 35 to 53 inches.

** If one floats to within a few feet of your boat, it's not because he's hungry. River otters are both curious and near-sighted, which helps them see under water.

** They'd be lost without beavers. Otters can't dig their own burrows, making abandoned beaver dens a favorite place for resting and raising their young.

** Don't let the stubby legs and webbed toes fool you — they are powerful swimmers; run as fast as 29 mph; and can remain under water for 3 to 4 minutes at a time.

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