Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


name for a number of aquatic, carnivorous mammals of the weaselweasel,
name for certain small, lithe, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae (weasel family). Members of this family are generally characterized by long bodies and necks, short legs, small rounded ears, and medium to long tails.
..... Click the link for more information.
 family, found on all continents except Australia. The common river otters of Eurasia and the Americas are species of the genus Lutra. The North American river otter, L. canadensis, ranges from N Alaska and Canada to the S United States. Its slender body is 2 1-2 to 3 ft (76–91 cm) long, excluding the 12-in. (30-cm), heavy tail; it weighs from 10 to 25 lb (4–10 kg). It has thick, glossy brown fur, which is commercially valuable. The head is flattened, the legs are short, and the hind feet are webbed. An agile swimmer, it fishes in streams and lakes, along the banks of which it makes its burrow. It also eats frogs, crayfish, and other water animals. Although it spends most of its time in water, it makes overland trips on occasion. The otter is a social and playful animal; groups have been seen playing "follow the leader," sliding down mudbanks, or tobogganing in the snow, apparently for the sake of pleasure. Of the freshwater otters, the South American giant otter, Pteronura brasiliensis, is the most highly modified for aquatic life. Its highly streamlined body is up to 7 ft (213 cm) long, the tail is keeled, and the feet are short, webbed, and nearly useless on land. Its mouth is set under the muzzle, like that of a shark. Hunted extensively for its fur, the giant otter may be in danger of extinction over much of its range. Otters of other genera are found in Africa and SE Asia. The sea otter, Enhydra lutris, found in and around the kelp beds of the N Pacific, is the only exclusively marine species, although river otters sometimes enter the ocean at the mouths of rivers. The sea otter swims on its back and in this position carries its cub and eats its meals of abalone, crab, and sea urchin, sometimes using a rock to smash open the shells. Relentless hunting of the animal led to its near extinction; however, it is now protected by international agreement. Otters are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information.
, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Mustelidae.


See E. Park, The World of the Otter (1972); P. Chanin, The Natural History of Otters (1985).



(Lutra lutra), a predatory mammal of the family Mustelidae; a valuable fur-bearing animal. Weight, up to 10 kg. The body is supple and muscular and more than 70 cm long. The long tail (about 45 cm) is tapering; the paws are short and webbed. The animal is found in Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa; in the USSR it is found everywhere except the Far North, the Crimea, and in deserts.

Otters can swim swiftly and burrow well. The fur does not get wet in water, and it retains air. The basic food for otters is fish and frogs; sometimes they catch ducklings and water voles. In winter otters stay near wormwood. While searching for fish, they may migrate, even crossing local watersheds. They gradually shed their fur during the spring-summer season; their best fur appears during the winter. The burrow, whose entrance is sometimes hidden beneath the water, is built under the overhanging banks. Gestation lasts eight to ten months, and otters breed once every two years in April or May. Otters give birth to blind offspring (most often three), which they care for all winter. The male does not help care for the young. Because of the widespread extermination of otters, hunting for them is prohibited in most regions of the USSR.


Ognev, S. I. Zveri Vostochnoi Evropy i Severnoi Azii, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Edited by V. G. Geptner and V. P. Naumov. Moscow, 1967.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of various members of the family Mustelidae, having a long thin body, short legs, a somewhat flattened head, webbed toes, and a broad flattened tail; all are adapted to aquatic life.


1. any freshwater carnivorous musteline mammal of the subfamily Lutrinae, esp Lutra lutra (Eurasian otter), typically having smooth fur, a streamlined body, and webbed feet
2. the fur of any of these animals
3. a type of fishing tackle consisting of a weighted board to which hooked and baited lines are attached
References in periodicals archive ?
The adult otter - named Ludwig, pictured, by the refinery after Ludwig Mond who founded the refinery in 1902 - was then taken to a veterinary surgery for an examination.
Virasb and Tom are joining Otter s executive team during a time of tremendous opportunity in the OTT space.
All Sea Otter Classic 2014 athletes and attendees, along with cycling enthusiasts everywhere are invited to create their own movie showcasing their passion for the sport.
VOLUNTEERS are needed to help Durham Wildlife Trust spot the region's otters.
Once the otter is big and independent enough to fend for himself in the wild, we will undertake a soft release in an enclosure close to area he was found and all being well a full return to the wild will follow.
Clean water, a smorgasbord of food--clams, crabs, mussels, and urchins--and a ban on otter hunting and most commercial fishing in the park have contributed to the burgeoning population, but scientists still don't know exactly why so many otters have migrated and reproduced here as opposed to other pristine areas of Alaska.
Leading otter researcher Dr Eleanor Kean, of Cardiff University's School of Biosciences, helped write the study with Dr Elizabeth Chadwick.
Otters nearly died out in the 1970s and the Otter Trust in Norfolk released a number into the wild between 1984 and 1997 - with the approval of conservation bodies.
In one corner of Hampshire, European otters, who pass regularly through Winchester City Mill as they hunt for up to 30 miles along the River Itchen, have become minor celebrities.
Comparing kelp density with otters and kelp density without otters, they found that "sea otters have a positive indirect effect on kelp biomass by preying on sea urchins, a kelp grazer.
Wildlife enthusiasts are mourning the loss of the creature saying it is a "significant blow" to the local population as there are only around 20 otters left in the entire county.

Full browser ?