|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|I took this picture in "Le Bois du Petit Château". It's a small zoo that you can visit for free. It's a nice place and when I looked at the otters they were feeding them.|
The otter (lutrinae) is a carnivorous aquatic or marine mammal part of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, polecats, badgers, as well as others. With 13 species in 7 genera, otters have an almost worldwide distribution. The collective noun romp is used to refer to a group of otters.
Otters have a dense layer (1,000 hairs/mm², 650,000 hairs per sq. in) of very soft underfur which, protected by their outer layer of long guard hairs, keeps them dry under water and traps a layer of air to keep them warm.
All otters have long, slim, streamlined bodies of extraordinary grace and flexibility, and short limbs; in most cases they have webbed paws. Most have sharp claws to grasp prey, but the short-clawed otter of southern Asia has only vestigial claws, and two closely-related species of African otter have no claws at all: these species live in the often muddy rivers of Africa and Asia and locate their prey by touch.
Most otters have fish as the primary item in their diet, supplemented by frogs, crayfish and crabs; some have become expert at opening shellfish, and others will take any available small mammals or birds. The feces of an otter is referred to as scat. To survive in the cold waters where many otters live, they do not depend on their specialised fur alone: they have very high metabolic rates and burn up energy at a profligate pace: Eurasian otters, for example, must eat 15% of their body-weight a day; sea otters, 20 to 25%, depending on the temperature. This prey-dependence leaves otters very vulnerable to prey depletion. In water as warm as 10°C an otter needs to catch 100 g of fish per hour: less than that and it cannot survive. Most species hunt for 3 to 5 hours a day, nursing mothers up to 8 hours a day.
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