River otters certainly are playful bunch

The River Otter is supposed to be the most fun-loving mammal in North America.
It makes its own toboggan slide, it frolics in the water, and just seems to get a lot out of life by just having fun!
The otter has been one of our most sought-after fur bearers. Its under fur is especially dense since it spends so much time in the water.
For many years, otter coats were at the top of fashion for people. Now, the fur is used mainly for trim.
The River Otter (Lontra canadensis) ranges throughout almost all of North American, from Mexico to the Arctic.
It lives around rivers, lakes, and ponds, and in tidal flats near the ocean. It may have a range of 40 or 50 miles.
Outside of sea mammals, the otter probably is the fastest swimmer we have.
It is perfectly adapted for water speed. The body is long and tapered, both ears and nose close under water, and the tail is long and thick.
The whole body is streamlined.
It is a good-sized animal, too—up to four feet long, and weighing in at 30 pounds plus.
There was a time when otters were considered a very real threat to fish. The English even developed a special type of dog, the Otterhound, to hunt otters.
Hunting otters in those days required three kinds of dogs: hounds to trail them, a poodle to get the otter out of his den, and the otterhound for the kill.
Otters make very playful and loyal pets if you get them when they are young.
They have drawbacks, however. They are the most curious animals on Earth—everything has to be investigated, which usually means tearing it apart.
One family which kept two otters for a while reported a lot of funny (?) things happening. The otters liked to get under the washing machine, but chewed up all the wire and hoses.
As well, they would go into a bedroom, open the dresser drawers, and take out all the contents to play with. And they would play around in the toilet bowl, then get into a bed to dry off!
People are not likely to rush out to find otters as pets.
I mentioned that otters are superb swimmers. An otter can stay under water for four minutes, can swim on the surface at six miles per hour, and do better than that under the surface.
Otters also will frolic in the water for hours.
You would think, then, that little baby otters would take naturally to the water. Not so. The mother has to force them into the water and then teach them to swim.
Otters eat fish, which they can outswim any day. But they also eat crayfish, clams, turtles, small birds and eggs, insects, and worms.
They are not a threat to gamefish at all.
To find otters, look for water, preferably a wide stream. You may come across a used water slide, or a flat place where they roll.
They are fascinating to watch—and will keep you amused for hours.

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