There are saggy pockets of slack skin under each forearm. These pouches are used by the sea otter to keep food that it has collected. It also keeps favored pebbles for breaking open mollusks and clams. The forelegs are webbed and resemble flippers. Sea otters use their snouts to dig for food underwater.
An otter's mouth is located on the top of its head. Its teeth are adapted for catching fish and crustaceans- not for tearing up wood or digging holes. Otters usually eat their prey whole but will take pieces out of their meals if they are very large. They can also tear meat off of bones.
Otters are aquatic mammals that belong to the weasel family (Mustelidae). There are three main groups within the family of mustelids: ferrets, martens, and weasels. Otters are most closely related to ferrets and martens. Both groups of animals have pointed faces with piercing eyes that help them see in the dark. They also have long, curved, and sharpened claws that are perfect for digging into soft earth or flesh when threatened or in pursuit of prey.
Otters are native to the oceans around the world but they are found everywhere water can reach even as far inland as Minnesota and Michigan. Because of this range restriction, they are classified as a marine mammal.
Sea otters have two layers of thick fur with over a million strands per square inch. This animal can swim at speeds up to 20 miles an hour and dive down to depths of 400 feet for up to five minutes at a time!
Otters usually spend their days swimming around looking for food, but they do sleep some too. They roll themselves into a ball with only their nose showing above the water. This is called a "floating sleep" and it helps them avoid predators such as fish hunters and birds of prey.
An otter's stomach is designed to digest hard-shelled mollusks such as clams and mussels. However, since fish is what they eat most often, their digestive system is not very efficient at processing this type of food so they tend to regurgitate and re-eat anything beyond their first bite.
Otters live in families that consist of an adult male, female, and sometimes young of the year. Families will stick together for life even if the old family home becomes too small for everyone to fit inside of it anymore. This is because they need each other to protect them from predators like fish hunters and birds of prey.
Water otters frequently entangle themselves in forests of kelp or huge seaweed to provide anchoring, preventing them from floating away in the whirling sea as they sleep. This is also why they are holding hands. They do this to keep themselves from straying from the group. There are cases where water otters have been seen holding hands with a dead body in order to stay together.
Otters are good swimmers due to their webbed feet and powerful tails that function as rudders. To keep water out, their noses and ears seal, and their waterproof fur keeps them warm. Otters can stay underwater for up to five minutes at a time.
Otters usually come ashore to sleep or eat. When they do, they leave the shoreline and go into freshwater areas such as lakes or rivers where they can find food and drink. Although they may appear to be just sleeping, when an otter wakes up it starts making noise by squeaking rocks together or chirping birds attract other otters who will then do the same thing. This activity is called "play-bowing" and is used by males during mating seasons to show off their muscles.
Otters' fur does not grow long because they swim often and play hard too. An otter's coat grows about one inch (2.5 centimeters) every three months.
An otter's nose is very sensitive and can detect prey from several feet away. It uses its sense of smell to search for fish, frogs, worms, and other animals in ponds and lakes.
Otters' eyes are also very sensitive and they can see well even in dim light.
Otters from the sea otter genus Enhydra are the only members of that genus. There are three living species: the northern sea otter E. lutris, the southern sea otter E. oceani, and the Asian sea otter E. macrotis. The extinct Steller's sea otter E. stellersi also belongs to this genus.
The genus Enhydra was first used by Carl Linnaeus in his 1758 book Systema Naturae to describe a terrestrial animal found in Sweden. When Carl von Linne introduced the name Sea Otter into use in 1825, it was for a marine mammal species named Haliotis cracherodii by John Edward Gray in his 1821 book Conchologia Britannica. Gray intended the name to be applied only to a small mollusc that inhabits shells or other objects submerged at low tide but which comes out of its shell when the water rises. This description matches the sea otter perfectly so there was no need for further study of the animal's characteristics. It was not until much later that scientists began to understand how different the sea otter is from other animals with similar names.
Small-clawed Asian Otters got their name from their tiny, rounded fingernails, which they have instead of claws. Clawed Small Due to habitat loss, pollution, and poaching for their fur, Asian otters are a vulnerable species in the wild (pelts). - paraphrasing formalized Asian otters have completely webbed rear feet but only partly webbed hands.
They have a slender body with short legs and a long tail. The head is round with large ears that stick out past the edge of the head. The mouth is wide with flat teeth used for tearing flesh from carcasses. Behind the eye is a black mark called a "luminarium" which gives away their dark color when illuminated from behind.
Asian otters usually live about 10 years in the wild but can be found living up to 14 years in captivity. They are considered a medium-sized otter with weights ranging from 2 to 7 kg (4 to 15 lb). Females tend to be smaller than males.
In the wild, Asian otters eat fish, mollusks, crabs, frogs, and even small animals such as mice and birds. They also consume alcohol and will even drink wine left by people. This behavior has caused them to be classified as an "umbilical animal" because of its connection to human culture. They use their snouts to find items in underwater habitats so they don't need very good vision like other otters do.
The forepaws of a sea otter are extremely agile. They have tremendous rubbing, twisting, and pulling power. The claws on the forepaws retract. When the otter digs or grasps prey with its paws, the claws spread out to form sharp hooks.
When not in use, the claws of a sea otter drop below the skin's surface. However, this does not mean that they lose their ability to be flexible. Rather, the muscle and tendon that control the claw's movement are still attached to it. If needed, these muscles can pull the claw back into the paw. This ability is useful for an animal that spends most of its time underwater because it can move its claws without having to stop what it is doing.
Sea otters feed by digging deep holes in the sand with their front feet and then using their powerful heads to tear at fish and other marine animals trapped by the tail. They also eat clams, worms, and small sharks. Although they seem to enjoy scaring away larger predators with loud screams, eating, and tumbling in the water, they are actually very vulnerable while ashore. Because of this, sea otters usually spend about half of their time at sea and half on land.