Do Otters Mate For Life? ????

closeness of an otter mom baby L9KZQ7E e1632771462807

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Although otters are often seen together in love – for days at a time – they are not paired for life. The male soon leaves her – and goes off to find another one.

closeness of an otter mom baby L9KZQ7E

Do Otters Mate For Life?

Otters – like many other mammals – are polygynous: where one male mates with several different females.

It doesn’t happen like with red deer where the male owns a territory and gathers up his females – otter males tend to have to wander about in a huge home range to find their females. And he may find one who isn’t even ready to be mated – so heads off again – hoping another male doesn’t beat him to it.

Mating is a rough affair too – and there seems to be a lot of nose biting? Females are often left with a swollen and bloodied nose after their pairing – up to half an hour of rough interaction in the water. Why they do this is unclear, but it does help scientists to individually identify each female. Another reason why we know that otters don’t always pair up with the same mate.

In more remote areas of course – the females are more likely to meet up again with the same male through just luck rather than design. In tougher environments like more northern coastal areas, otters may all live in the same area if the fishing is good – and so there are times when otter pups actually get to meet their father and spend time together.

Unusually for otters – and mustelids (the larger group that otters belong to) Giant Otters from the Amazon and Pantanal regions ARE monogamous. These otters live in family groups centered around a breeding pair – who mate for life. They are ferociously territorial against other clans and will readily fight to protect their home range.

Video of Otters Mating

What Is The Gestation Of An Otter?

Female river otters can delay implantation for nearly a year and so the time spent between mating and actually having a live pup can be 12 months or more. This extended time isn’t her gestation – it is a combination of effects.

Her true gestation is around 2 months (60 days) – but they can ‘pause’ the implantation of the fertilized egg for over 8 months. Otters tend to breed in the late winter-early spring (December through to April), but otters don’t give birth until the following spring. They basically pause their pregnancy for around 8-10 months (basically one pup every year). Then they shore up a cozy den (usually modifying an existing site) and have between 1-5 young – sometimes called cubs.

Sea Otters have a true gestation of around 4 months – although they still also use delayed implantation to a certain degree. However, as Sea Otters are not seasonal breeders, the delaying of birth isn’t tied to a specific abundance of food in the same way as the North American River Otter is.

Sea Otters are so much larger and have different requirements – so apart from in the warmest parts of California – they only have their pups every other year – and they are usually over 5 years old before they are old enough to start breeding in the first place.

Also, they only have one single pup each time – unlike the larger litters of other otters species. These single pups often ride on their mother’s tummies and make great videos. They can on rare occasions – have twins – but almost always one of the pups doesn’t make it.

What Are the Behavioral Changes to Look Out For During Otter Mating Season?

During otter mating season, it is essential to observe for alligator mating season behavioral changes. Otters tend to become more territorial, engaging in aggressive behaviors to protect their mating territories. Additionally, they may display increased vocalizations and scent marking. Increased social interactions and courtship rituals among otters are also common during this period.

Do Otters Live With Their Family?

More often than not – otter families stay living together for as long as the food is enough. Giant River Otters are probably one of the most well-known family bonded groups who stay in their family groups for the longest. Sea Otters will often form huge groups – but they aren’t always closely related.

Otters are generally found in small related groups – this is usually the mother and her offspring from that year – and maybe the father or an older daughter from the year before if the region has an excess of food compared to other locations. When food is scarce – otters often split up to search further afield and to spread out their hunting area. When food is flush though – they can afford to hunt together for longer.

With most otters – including the North American River Otter – just before the next litter of pups are due – the yearling pups head off on their own. Usually helped greatly by a rather mardy mother!

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