Though there are many other interactions between sea otters and their prey species, the best example of this effect is the sea urchin. The only predator that they have to worry about is the killer whale. There have even been cases where the otters would guard and copulate the bodies for up to a week after death. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Sea otters are foragers that eat mostly hard-shelled invertebrates, including sea urchins and a variety of clams, mussels, and crabs. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they eat a prepare… Otters are principally piscivorous, relying predominantly on salmonids (salmon and trout), but also eel and small fish species such as stickleback. Th… In this predator-prey relationship, where the urchin is the prey and main source of food for the sea otter, sea urchins play a large role in the population growth for the otter (Costa, 2011). Sea Otter Diet and Energy Intake. Approximately 40,000 of them are consumed annually in this area. They prey on crustaceans by using pairs of rocks to crush the outer shells, easily accessing the soft flesh inside. Most species are entirely dependent on aquatic habitats for food. Otters were able to recall their meatball retrieving tekkers months after their first exposure to the puzzle. Since Otters aren’t used for meat, there is no reason that humans must kill them to survive. Otters Show How Predators Can Blunt Climate Damage. In California thousands of them are consumed annually by White Sharks. Prey-dependence leaves otters very vulnerable to prey depletion. Don't challenge these chonky critters to an eating contest, as they consume about a quarter of their body weight every day. Otter Natural Predators Otters may look like cuddly creatures but they can also be very defensive when they feel that they are their offspring are in danger. Otters may look like cuddly creatures but they can also be very defensive when they feel that they are their offspring are in danger. This means that, when they are removed, the rest of the ecosystem collapses. They hunt in the water as they are floating. The Eurasian otter’s main diet is made up of fish (fish accounts for 80% of its food). The Eurasian otters use their sensitive whiskers in murky waters to detect their prey. The average life span for a sea otter is 15-20 years. The otter’s thick coat is made of guard hair and an undercoat. Photos with European Otter Distribution. The home range of an otter is extensive, covering as much as 50 miles. As the name suggests, the giant otter is the world's largest otter species and is well-known from wildlife documentaries. Sea otters are the smallest marine mammal whose flipper-shaped hind feet are well adapted to a marine environment, with adult females typically weighing 35-60 pounds, while males reach up to 90 pounds. Otters are usually found no more than a few hundred meters from water. Today traps are still the number one method used for hunting Otters. They tend to hunt more in the water than on land because it is easier for them to do so. Solitary. Diet and Nutrition European otters are carnivores, they eat mainly fish, but they also hunt amphibians and other aquatic prey, as well as birds, eggs, insects, worms, and a small amount of vegetation They have a very high metabolism, so they need to eat frequently. Otters in captivity are often seen juggling like this. Featuring some of the most popular crossword puzzles, XWordSolver.com uses the knowledge of experts in history, anthropology, and science combined to provide you solutions when you cannot seem to guess the word. And very impressive it is, too – they can even do it with their eyes closed. We have found that proportions of prey types in sea otter diets vary by region. There are several other predators that the Otter has to worry about as well. The future for Otters though is really going to depend on the balance when it comes to the predators they have. Therefore they will trap them and kill them so they can’t consume the fish. Otter populations are affected by the density of prey they hunt. On land, coyotes and bobcats also predate on otters. Of course Otters aren’t the most powerful animals out there which is why they often find safety in numbers. Foraging at night or in ‘muddy’ water is aided by their highly sensitive whiskers, which detect their prey items. Upon returning to the surface, they float on their backs, with the rock on the stomachs. Researchers working in Alaska’s Katmai Coast have discovered a surprising new interaction between mammals on small islands off the coast: grizzly bears are preying on sea otters. Otters, like other predators, may improve the overall health of a prey species’ population by targeting the sick and weak. The otters lie on their backs and pat the stones into the air, catching them and rolling them skilfully around their chests and necks. The behaviour is likely to be linked to the animals’ use of rocks to detach prey from the seabed and break it open. Semiaquatic. In this study, we observed a hand-reared European otter (Lutra lutra) foraging in the wild, in order to identify the type of prey captured by the predator. Sea otters eat sea urchins in abundance where they both occur but also prey on crabs and other crustaceans and mollusks Common predators of sea otters include various predatory marine mammals such as orcas and sea lions. Prey items include sea urchins, abalone, crabs, mussels, clams, marine snails, marine worms, sea stars, and squid. Otters also have particularly stinky poop, which even has its own name: spraints. The delicate balance of the food chain out there is important because, as I explained in my examples, when one predator can’t get its normal food sources it will turn to others. Sea lions are a problem in some areas as well. However, these whales find Otters to be a great meal. The excluded scared off males gather in areas that do not have much contact with female sea otters. Sometimes this includes species already threatened or endangered by human behaviors, such as salmon and red-legged frogs. That will likely lead them to starvation in order to get the numbers back in balance. Because the otter food source is easier to excavate from rocky-bottom habitats, as opposed to soft-bottom habitats, more otters tend to live in waters with rocky bottoms with access to shallow-burrowing prey. The sea otter is one of the few animals in the world that has the remarkable trait of using tools, such as rocks, in order to get at its prey. Other otter species, such as the Giant Otter, are ‘mouth orientated’ and chase their prey under water, seizing it with their mouth. On land, the otters face threats from bears and coyotes. The sea otter’s teeth are adapted for crushing these prey items with their molars being broad and flat and canines rounded and blunt. The two breeds have different diets, where Asian small-clawed eat shellfish and crabs while smooth-coated otters prey on fish. Do giant otters live in a group? They use the rock as a table against which they smash their shelled prey to g… When this happens, the stronger otters will work to exclude other males from mating. Humans have changed the ways in which the hunt Otters over the years. By the same token Otters may be going further out into the water to find their own foods. Find out more about this beautiful mammal. ( Log Out /  Giant otters are the largest of any otter in the world growing up to 1.8m. First it was arrows and homemade weapons. If it finds a hard-shelled prey, the sea otter will hammer it against the rock. For example the Alaskan Otter is protected so humans aren’t really a treat to it. Otters eat up to 30 percent of their body weight each day, and when they prey on lots of shellfish and urchins, kelp forests can regrow and give salmon and rockfish and others a place to stay. Not all otters use tools, but sea otters use them all the time. They tend to hunt more in the water than on land because it is easier for them to do so. No. Although, their whiskers are robust and thick like their seal and sea lion counterparts, they never traded their front paws for flippers. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. As predicted by optimal foraging theory, sea otters prefer food species of high rank and replace depleted dietary items with those of next highest rank. Watching Otters chase their prey is fun because they are so very active. Otters may also occasionally prey on birds, rabbits, and rodents. The 11 species often referred to as river otters are found throughout North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia in freshwater ecosystems that sustain an abundance of prey such as fish, crayfish, crabs, mussels, and frogs. Within these habitats otters feed on a range of both aquatic and terrestrial prey. Once caught, the prey is immobilised by being chewed at either the head or the tail end – this prevents the prey escaping if the otter loses its grip on its slippery meal. Individual otters are highly territorial, using droppings called spraints to mark their home ranges. Sometimes this includes species already threatened or endangered by human behaviors, such as salmon and red-legged frogs. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. River otters, of course, don’t live in a vacuum. As top predators, they interact in many ways with a wide variety of other animals. While otters prey mostly on fish, they also eat crayfish, mollusks, and insects. River otters eat a variety of aquatic wildlife, such as fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds’ eggs, birds and reptiles such as turtles. The sea otter mainly hunts sea urchins, clams, crabs, snails and small fish in the water. How Do … Sea otter prey is often visually camouflaged or buried, and the digging methods that sea otters use to extract them can actually make the surrounding water cloudy [4,5]. The sea otter diet at KEFJ is comprised of about equal proportions of mussels and clams, while in contrast, diet in KATM continues to be dominated by clams with an assortment of other, less-important prey. It has many sensitive whiskers around its snout; these help to locate prey. Other predators include sea lions in certain areas, as well as eagles, which eat otter pups. The predators that Otters will encounter depend on where they happen to live. By repeatedly foraging these contaminated prey, the otters put themselves at risk of harmful diseases. Watching Otters chase their prey is fun because they are so very active. Humans are the biggest predator of the Otter. Eagles can be a problem too for the smaller Otters and the young. It feeds mainly on fish, including cichlids, characins (such as piranha), and catfish. If there was a decrease in sea urchin population, this would consequently have an adverse effect on the sea otter. Sea otters are provided a varied diet while in human care. Sea otters are hunters of clams, sea urchins and other shelled creatures. This also helps them to conserve energy. As sea otters declined (for reasons scientists are still trying to understand), their favorite prey—sea urchins—exploded in number. However, otters are not limited to fish and feed opportunistically on a range of prey when available: frogs are frequently … The Eurasian otter’s main diet is made up of fish (fish accounts for 80% of its food). So. The undercoat next to the skin stays dry, insulating the otter from the cold water in its environment. Otters that live near swamps may become food for alligators and crocodiles. What the hell, am I right? However, these whales find Otters to be a great meal. They use their retractable claws to quickly grab and kill their prey. Without them some type of predators would end up not having enough food. Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress. Then guns and traps emerged during the height of the slaughter of them. Other types of food that the Otters consume though may end up being overpopulated. In winter, some may dig up hibernating frogs. Sea otters will eat virtually anything they can get their little paws on. Most river otters are opportunistic, feeding on … Carnivore. When cornered on land, they will fight and scratch. Al. They hunt singly or in pairs and although otters generally forage in water, they are equally at home on land, sometimes traveling between 10 and 18 miles (16 and 29 kilometers) in search of food. An electivity index was used to quantify sea otter preferences, which corresponded closely with a ranking scheme based on energy intake/unit foraging time calculated for each major prey species. Can otters use tools? Northern sea otters, from Washington to Alaska, more commonly prey on … Fourthly, sea otters are also threatened by predators that live underwater like orcas, sea lions, and bald eagles. The otters have been found to keep having sex with the female otter or baby seal after they are dead. They have also been known to eat aquatic plants and to prey on other small mammals, such as muskrats or rabbits. The sea otter’s diet includes about 40 marine species, including urchins, crabs, clams, abalones, mussels, and snails. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are not like other marine mammals. They have an interesting method of eating their prey. Sea otters have strong effects on prey communities and sea otter numbers and behavior reflect habitat conditions; because of these features, sea otters are particularly useful indicators of ecosystem status. Male sea otters are very territorial, which leads to the stronger males establishing themselves in areas with high numbers of females. Researchers recently tested how sea otters distinguish objects with the sense of touch. It may take two weeks to a month for an otter to cover its territory. Sea Otter - The Asian sea otter is the largest subspecies, followed by the northern sea otter, leaving the southern sea otter as the smallest. A captive giant otter, when feeding, grasps prey in its forepaws and begins eating immediately, at the head. ( Log Out /  However, some sea otters seem to seasonally shift their foraging activity to daylight hours [6], which suggests that vision improves sea otters’ ability to find and capture prey, thereby conserving energy. Commercial fishermen don’t like their daily catch to be reduced due to the Otters. The predators that Otters will encounter depend on where they happen to live. Sea otters are what is known as a keystone species. Young river otters prove to be the most susceptible to predators. Six of the eight prey types were among the three most highly preferred species by two or more of the focal otters, yet with a single exception (the three animals that preferred mussels – otters 2, 3 and 5 – were all members of group 1 that used the eastern half of the study area), the otters that consumed these prey occurred in spatial groupings that spanned the study area. River otters do not compete with humans for game fish. Few river otter predators exist in nature. Otters prey mainly on invertebrates such as crabs, clams, and urchins. Some of the species have been hunted until their numbers were drastically low. North American river otters get their boundless energy from their very high metabolism, which also requires that they eat a great deal during the day. ... As sea otters declined (for reasons scientists are still trying to understand), their favorite prey—sea urchins—exploded in number. Otters eat up to 30 percent of their body weight each day, and when they prey on lots of shellfish and urchins, kelp forests can regrow and give salmon and rockfish and others a … Otters are active hunters, chasing prey in the water or searching the beds of rivers, lakes or the seas. Of course Otters aren’t the most powerful animals out there which is why they often find safety in numbers. This rippling effect has a profound effect on the future for the Otter and many other animals. Keep in mind that we have over 3 million clues with their own … Sea Otter Quick Stats! Some hunt Otters for the thrill of the kill. River otters are crepuscular, meaning they are more active at … Se. Sometimes they accidentally get caught in the nets though that the fisherman place into the water. Approximately 40,000 of them are consumed annually in this area. The giant otter is an apex predator, and its population status reflects the overall health of riverine ecosystems. Fish are relatively insignificant in their diets. They are known to eat clams, mussels, crabs, octopus, sea urchins, snails, and fat innkeeper worms. River otters are strong, unmatched swimmers in their environments, and on land they can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. It is also important to understand that otters have a healthy role in the overall ecosystems out there. Ca. However, the number of them being killed isn’t nearly the same volume as what takes place in Alaska. Otters that live in rivers and lakes tend to be completely nocturnal, described as being crepuscular – activity peaks at dusk and dawn. They have an interesting method of eating their prey. As the sea otter floats on its back, it rips the prey apart and dine on it through its forepaws. Otters have long, stiff, and highly sensitive facial whiskers behind and below the nose that aid in finding and capturing prey. Bobcats have become more of a problem too due to the increased numbers of them in the wild. By eating sea urchins, the sea otter helps in conserving the kelp forests, one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. The great white will prey on the sea otter as a source of food along the north eastern coast of the Pacific Ocean. Southern sea otters off Central California prey largely on invertebrates, such as urchins, crabs, abalone, and clams. ; They prey on amphibians like frogs, aquatic insects, small mammals, birds, reptiles, and crabs. 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