The North American River Otter, or Lutra canadensis (their scientific name) are both playful and fairly plentiful along the Myakka River. They make homes out of burrows with multiple entrances close by the waters edge. Otters are mammals most closely related to the weasel, possessing a thick layer of insulating and waterproof fur and are notably seen year-round both in and along the Myakka River. They are excellent hunters both in and out of the water consuming crayfish, frogs, turtles and the most plentiful food groups for them – FISH!
These playful critters can cause the fish to stop biting like a light switch! But just put your fishing pole away, sit back and relax. It’s time to watch the REAL fishermen work their magic! If you catch them when their hungry you’ll quickly notice that almost every trip underwater, which may last up to several minutes at a time, yields a return with a fish in their mouth. The show they put on fishing, hunting and playing is usually well worth the temporary lack of biting fish for you!
Otters on the Myakka River basin range in size between 10 & 30 pounds with a typical lifespan of about 10 years. The webbed feet and powerful tapered tail allow for short bursts of great speed and agility where most of their hunting prowess is attained. Females are noted to be only slightly smaller than the males and may give birth to litters of up to six young at a time in their underground burrows by the river.
While a few other natural predators on the Myakka River area such as Bobcats, Coyote, and Alligators would be considered threats to the River Otter; Man is still the largest danger to them through direct activities such as accidental trapping from fish lines or nets and habitat destruction.