KIDS ASK: What Do River Otters Eat?

River otters basically eat anything they can get their agile paws on. Physical adaptations like their thick water-repellent fur, sharp claws and teeth, and keen sense of smell and hearing, make river otters highly successful hunters.  The diet of a river otter is extremely versatile;  whatever is available in its habitat it eats!  The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) feasts on fish, crayfish, frogs, turtles and even smaller mammals. The Southern river otter (lontra provocax), found in Chile and Argentina, consumes crabs and other crustaceans, mollusks, and sometimes even birds.

River otters are active year-round, and usually hunt during the night and crepuscular hours. River otters acquire food by lurking behind their prey and then capturing it with a quick lunge and ambush.   Well-equipped for aquatic life with short, strong legs, fully webbed toes, and a powerful tapered tail, river otters can stay submerged underwater for up to 4 minutes  while tracking down their next meal.  They are social animals that get along well with their peers. At times when more than one otter is hungry, a group  may work together to pursue dinner.  After a successful hunt, otters bring their food to the surface of the water to consume (while doing the back float!) , or if the meal is larger, carry it onshore to eat.