Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Sea Otter

We live in a wild world. Today we are visiting the Pacific Coast of North America to sneak a peek at the playful and lovable sea otter. Let’s take a dive into the nature of this furry fellow.

It Otter Be…

There are 13 species of sea otters living in both fresh and salt water around the world. They have short brown to reddish-brown fur, with a small head and short limbs. They have sharp teeth and webbed feet with retractable claws on their front paws, and all of the species sport strong muscular tails that help them swim and dive.

The largest sea otter is the Giant Otter which can be found around the Amazon river. This guy can weigh up to 100 pounds (45.5 kg) and grow up to 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. The smallest otter is found from India to China and is called the Asian Small Clawed Otter. It’s considerable smaller at 11 pounds (5 kg) and is 3 feet (0.9 m) in length. All sea otters love the water and spend most of their lives in it.

Wild World Fact…
…sea otters have the densest fur of all animals – with 100,000 hairs per square centimeter – this is needed as the otter doesn’t have an extra layer of body fat to keep it warm.

The Seafood Diet

Otters not only love to eat they need to eat 25-40 percent of their own body weight just to stay warm. They consume approximately 100 different species of sea life including, crabs, mussels, squid and fish.

The otter hunts using sight and touch, plus it’s powerful swimming skills. It can also hold its breath up to 6 minutes. This fellow is also an excellent diver and will turn over large rocks in its quest for food. Once it has found a tasty morsel it will grab it with its front paws and bring it to the surface to eat, sometimes using it’s chest as a dining table.

The otter is one of the few animals that uses a tool - a rock makes a good hammer to crack open the tough shell of a mussel or crab.

It’s Sleepy Time

Since otters like to spend most of their time in the water, it’s only natural they would also adapt themselves to sleeping in it. The otter floats on it’s back with it’s head and feet stuck up in the air. The otter has also been known to find a kelp bed and roll itself around and around in a big leaf of sea kelp. This is the perfect “life-preserver” for the otter and keeps it from floating off.

Another way the otter sleeps is to clasp hands with a fellow sleepy otter, together they float and rest. A group of otters called a “raft” will cling to each other (front paws clasped) to rest and stay safe in bunches of 10 to as many as 100o individuals.

Wild World Fact…
…when sea otters form a raft the individual otters are usually all male or all female.

For more information on the wonderful sea otter, visit your local library, the Internet or a marine life aquarium such as Sea World.

Wonder Words

~ retractable ~ to draw or pull back

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