River Otter Habitat

Asked December 12, 2016, 1:46 PM EST

I live on a farm in Eastern Ontario. Four days ago I saw what was either a river otter or fisher move past me in the woods. Yesterday I saw a different track from what appeared to be the same animal. Both tracks seems to be consistent with a River Otter (walk/slide), however its location is in a pine forest approx 450 yards from the Rideau River shoreline.

Question: Will River Otters live 450 + yards away from a water source in winter?

Outside United States

2 Responses


It's not unheard of that you would find a river otter a little bit further from a water source during the winter months. Unlike many other species that live in cold winter climates, rivver otters don't migrate, hibernate in a deep sleep, or slow down to minimize their energy expenditure. River otters’ two-layered fur coat allows them to stay active throughout winter. Outer hairs provide water repellency, and soft, dense underfur insulates them for adventures in and out of frigid water. River otters move effortlessly in any temperature water thanks to adaptations like an elongated body, powerful webbed feet and a tapered tail for propulsion. They make their homes close to water—usually in burrows along the edges of rivers, lakes, or wetlands.

Winter may not change where river otters live, but it does change some of their daily habits. For example, they are more diurnal (active during the day) in winter, while they are more nocturnal (active during the night) in other seasons. During the winter day, when temperatures are highest, river otters may travel more to find open bodies of water where they can fish. When fish aren’t readily accessible, river otters may root out hibernating frogs and turtles buried in the mud.

I hope that is helpful!


Thank you for the well-informed answer to my question.

Very Much appreciated.