Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork. The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Critter of the Week July 12: Northern River Otter
One of my favorite animals to watch at Panther Island is the northern river otter. This species is a member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) which also includes minks, ferrets, martens, skunks, weasels, badgers, and wolverines. There are 16 species of Mustelids in North America (north of Mexico). All Mustelids have a pair of scent glands near their tail. Northern river otters use them to mark territory. But in skunks these are highly developed! These semi-aquatic mammals have long streamlined bodies supported on land by short legs ending in completely webbed feet with claws and thick tapered tails. They can close their nostrils underwater, and another adaptation is thick dense fur for insulation in the water where they can actually hold their breath for up to 4 minutes and reach speeds of 6 mph! Their whiskers are super sensitive so they can sense prey even in murky waters. They are found in canals, marshes, swamps, rivers, streams, lakes, and estuaries where they forage on a variety of aquatic critters like frogs, fish, turtles, crabs, crayfish, and more.