Baby river otters appear to be reluctant swimmers when they enter the water for the very first time. As you can see in the first video, the mother otter pulls, pushes and practically wrestles her offspring to begin a swim lesson at Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
The second video, from Oregon Zoo in Portland, features otter keeper Becca VanBeek, who provides us some details about the life of a young otter. Shown is a baby otter named Molalla. The mom seems a bit rough with her baby, but she’s just trying to teach a diving and breathing pattern.
If we want to be formal about it, what should we call a baby otter? A baby walrus is called a calf, and a baby sea lion is called a pup. So a baby otter is called a ______? If you said pup, you are right.
Now for the parents. If a male walrus is called a bull and a male sea lion is also called a bull, what is a male otter called? The answer is boar, but please don’t ask me who comes up with this stuff. Correspondingly, female walruses and female sea lions are called cows, while female otters are called sows.
Thirteen kinds of otters exist in the world. Some, such as the sea cat of South America, are so endangered that almost nothing is known about them Read about all 13 on the h2g2 website.
In the Northwest, many people confuse the sea otter with the river otter. Both are related to the weasel, and both have webbed feet and two layers of fur to maintain their body temperature in cold water. But there are many differences:
- River otters spend more time on land than water. Sea otters almost never climb up on land.
- River otters live in freshwater and marine estuaries. Sea otters live in seawater, including the ocean.
- River otters generally grow to 20-25 pounds, sea otters to 50-100 pounds.
- River otters swim with their bellies down and expose little of their back. Sea otters generally swim belly-up and float high in the water because of air trapped in their fur.
- River otters have rounded webbed paws, front and back. Sea otters’ rear paws are elongated like flippers with webbing going to the end of the toes.
Other otter videos worth watching:
- One-day-old sea otter sleeping on mom’s belly
- Who is amusing whom at Philadelphia Zoo?
- Otters play “music” at Smithsonian National Zoo
- River otters frolicking in Yellowstone snow and avoiding coyote
Below is one of the two live cameras in the sea otter exhibit at Seattle Aquarium. The cameras are in operation from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit the aquarium’s Otter Cams webpage to see both cams and read about the otters.
Monterey Bay Aquarium also has a live otter cam, which is in operation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit the aquarium’s Sea Otter page for feeding times, when the otters are introduced to the audience and a live discussion takes place with otter experts.