When you think of otters, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
If you said “cute,” you are definitely not alone.
Otters are some of the cutest creatures on the planet, and they always seem to be up to something playful and fun.
Did you know that one of the things otters love to do is hold hands?
It may seem like a strange behavior, but there is a sweet reason behind it!
There are 13 different types of otters that inhabit the globe.
While you may not know it, the majority of otter species spend most of their life on land.
There is only one fully aquatic otter, the sea otter.
Let’s take a look at why otters hold, and otter cute facts about this sweet furry animal.
What are Sea Otters
Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are one of the thirteen types of otters that live on earth.
These furry creatures belong to the Mustelidae family, which includes other carnivorous mammals like wolverines, weasels, skunks, and badgers.
Sea otters are the largest member of their family, but in the seas of North America, they are the smallest marine mammal.
Adults grow to be around 5 feet in length, and weigh between 50 to 100 lbs, with females being smaller.
Spending all of their time in the sea, these otters have thick dark brown or black fur.
Their coats are not only amazing for their look, but they also have the densest fur, which contains around 600,000 to 1,000,000 hair follicles per square inch.
Sea otters have blunt heads, with creamy coloring on their face.
Their furry faces and eyes make them look like plushies.
The legs of sea otters are very short, but allow them to swim, groom, get prey, and hold hands.
Why Otters Hold Hands
Sea otters are the only type of otter that holds hands, and it is one of their many extremely adorable traits.
They spend the majority of their lives in the water and rarely go on land.
Holding hands helps sea otters from floating away from each other.
Sea otters will even tangle themselves in seaweed or kelp, which helps keep them close to their family and not out to sea.
Even though it is incredibly cute, sea otters are the only species that hold hands.
Other otter species spend the majority of their lives on land.
Sea otters are ocean dwellers, and holding hands is just one of the many traits that help sea otters survive the treacherous sea.
Sea Otter Families
They enjoy living together and typically congregate in large same-sex groups.
Males are territorial when breeding, but fights rarely occur.
If the region’s water is populated by females, males will begin to look for a mate.
Groups of otters are not only cute, but they form these large families to increase their chances of surviving predators.
Raft is the term used to describe the group that sea otters make, and the number of members in a raft typically ranges from 10 to 100 sea otters.
The largest sea otter raft ever seen had more than 2,000 members.
Holding hands is just one way that helps keep sea otters together.
Mating is what sea otter groups do when males and females are near, but sea otters also play games with each other to help keep bonds.
Baby Sea Otters
Baby sea otters are born year-round, but peak activity of births typically occurs in the spring.
Between 2 to 6 years of age is when sea otters reach sexual maturity.
Females give birth to only one pup at a time and the chance of twins is only 2%.
Their pregnancy is only around four to five months.
When born sea otters are very small, and only weigh between 3 to 5 lbs.
At first, their mother’s milk is their only food source, and pups stay with their young for the first six months of their lives.
Young pups cannot dive and float atop the ocean’s water.
While with their mother sea otters learn how to survive, and do things like hunt, and play.
Where do Sea Otters Live?
There are three subspecies of sea otters, and where they live differs.
Northern sea otters are found near Alaska, British Columbia, and ocean waters near Washington state.
Southern sea otters are also called the California sea otter and are found along the central coastline of California.
The Asian sea otter is the third subspecies of the sea otter, which can be found in ocean waters near Japan, and Russia.
Sandy beaches, rocky regions, and bays are common areas where sea otters live.
Usually, sea otters stay near the shoreline and stay within a half mile away from the shore.
They prefer to live in areas with lots of food, and kelp.
While you can enjoy the populations of sea otters that go along California’s coast, around 90% of the animal population lives on the coast of Alaska.
While there are few differences between the sea otter subspecies, the Asian sea otter is the largest and has a broader head.
The majority of the sea otters’ life is spent in the sea, and females even give birth to their young in the water.
You may find these furry otters on land when they go to it occasionally to rest, nurse, or groom themselves.
Predators of Sea Otters
Some of the predators sea otters face include animals like bears, eagles, coyotes, sharks, and killer whales.
Sea otters rely on others, and their own intuition to make the best decisions to stay away from predators.
Being in groups also helps as they can communicate when danger is near.
Sea otters will raise their small paws to tell others that a threat is close.
Holding hands to increase their numbers and stay together is another method sea otters use to stay safe from predators.
If threatened it is also common for them to hide in thick bunches of sea kelps.
Other ways sea otters try to stay safe is to play dead, dive, or go onto land.
What Do Sea Otters Eat?
Sea otters are carnivores and feed on various sea species like crabs, clams, fish, octopuses, and sea urchins.
Their teeth, like the rest of their body, are designed for their marine lifestyle.
Their teeth are able to crush shells, and they use their front paws to hold food.
If you see a sea otter in the wild you may have seen them use tools like rocks to open shells.
The sea otters’ metabolism is extremely quick which helps them maintain their body warmth in the cold ocean.
Around eight hours of the day is spent feeding, and they can eat up to 25 % of their body weight.
Are Sea Otters Endangered?
Humans are the greatest threat to sea otters and this is why these beautiful animals have lost much of their population.
In most of their range, sea otters are protected since they are considered endangered.
Sea otters that live in the Pacific Rim have lost much of their populations, and today there are only around 3,000 left.
The fur trade that started in the 18th and 19th centuries is a reason why the populations of sea otters have declined.
Oil spills are the main reasons why otters are losing populations.
The Different Types of Otters
Today there are around 13 different types of otter species, including sea otters.
Despite sea otters being the only otters that hold hands, the other species are just as cute.
How they look and where they live are some of the differences between the 13 otter species.
Here are all of the 13 different otter species:
- Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus)
- Smooth Coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)
- Hairy-nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana)
- Spotted-necked Otter (Hydrictis maculicollis)
- African Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis)
- Congo Clawless Otter (Aonyx congicus)
- Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra)
- North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
- Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)
- Giant Otter (Ptreonura brasiliensis)
- Marine Otter (Lontra felina)
- Southern River Otter (Lontra provocax)
- Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis)
There are several otter species that are considered endangered, and learning about them is an important step in preserving them in the wild.
So there you have it!
Now you know why it is so common for otters to hold hands with one another, which is just one of their many cute features.
Holding hands can not only be a sign of affection between these family-loving creatures, but it also helps them stay close together.
Sea otters are considered an endangered species, and doing things to encourage the growth of their population is essential in keeping these cute animals around.
Let us know if you have any other interesting otter facts, or have a question that you may want to be answered.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out our other blog posts for more fun animal facts and information!
Check out our other animal FAQs here:
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