Otters are carnivorous mammals, belonging to the same family as foxes. They have a stretched body and short legs. Their paws have five fingers, which are in most species, connected with each other by a flap of skin, which helps them to swim better.
In the past, otters have been hunted massively for their skin, as their fur is thick and waterproof. It is formed by two types of hair, a thick undercoat which holds air forming an isolating layer and keeping them dry while swimming, and a longer type of hair which provide additional impermeability.
Today all otter species are listed as being in danger of extinction. The biggest threats to their survival nowadays are habitat destruction and human presence.
Otters live in oceans, rivers, lakes and swamps, wherever water is clean and without contamination, often in places with abundant shoreline vegetation and a wide variety of prey. Therefore, otters are perfect indicator species for environmental quality. Otters, being at the top of the food chain, are the first ones to disappear in contaminated or otherwise impacted areas.
As long as the world’s human population continues to increase and settles closer and closer to otter habitats, otter species populations will continue to decline. However, a world without otters is at the same time a world without pristine rivers and lakes and clean oceans.
Worldwide there are 13 otter species. Three otter species: Marine Otter, Giant Otter and Neotropical River Otter can be found in Peru.
To know more about terrestrial habitats and species, click the next links:
Neotropical river otter
Giant river otter
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