River Otters Versus Sea Otters: What’s the Difference?

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River otters and sea otters have some things in common, such as:
  • They’re both a type of weasel with long, slender bodies
  • They have webbed feet for swimming, and are excellent underwater hunters
  • They have two layers of fur to keep warm in cold water
  • A group of otters in the water is called a “raft.”
Here’s how river otters are different from sea otters:

River Otters   Sea Otters
Are about 20-25 pounds   Are about 50-100 pounds
Live in fresh water, like rivers and lakes, and slightly salty water, like in the Bay   Live in salt water, in the ocean
Spend half their time on land and half in the water   Almost never leave the water
Swim on their bellies   Float on their backs
Have little paws and can run quickly on land   Have wide webbed feet, and are really awkward on land, like they’re wearing SCUBA flippers
Eat their food on land or on a rock or log   Eat their food off their belly as they float on their backs
Sleep in dens underground   Sleep wrapped in a kelp “seatbelt”
Eat fish, frogs, crayfish, bugs, rats, and birds   Eat urchins, crabs, clams, octopuses

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