Otters belong to a subfamily of carnivore mammals within the big family mustelidae. There are thirteen otter species divided in seven genuses. One of them is virtually worldwide spread. In Mundomar you will be able to see a colony of oriental small-clawed otters −aonyx cinerea, typical of Southeast Asia.
These animals feel better when they are in the water. They have an impermeable dense fur that allows them to conserve their body warm. They are great swimmers. They can close their nostrils underwater and stay there for six minutes without going up back to breathe.
They alternate up-and-down graceful movements of their legs and tail when they swim at high speed. They only use their forelimbs when they swim at low speed. In the water they are able to reach a speed of more than 7 miles per hour.
Reproduction and feeding
Otters can be in heat whenever during the year. However, their reproduction is slow and irregular. A great number of births take place in spring. Each one of them may result in 2-3 temporally blind teethless litters. Breastfeeding is about two months. One year later litters leave their mother’s territory and start looking for their own territory. They usually find it two years after they are born.
River otters eat little fish, frogs and other aquatic animals that hunt with their mouth. However, Asian and African tropical otters look for feeding −shrimps, crabs− by digging in the mud in the bottom of the river with their sensitive forelegs
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They only eat fish and they hunt in groups of 5-6 individuals. They live in family groups made of breeding specimens, babies and quasi-adults who help bringing up babies but do not reproduce until they leave the family group. Spanish conquerors called them “river wolves”.
These animals are the only ones −together with primates− that are considered to use tools. They take little stones from the bottom of the sea and, while swimming on their back, they put it on their chest and slam the mussels against it until they open. This is an endangered species so hunting these animals is prohibited in several places. Killer whales are their natural predators.