Otters are undeniably captivating creatures. These marine mammals, with their endearing features and playful behavior, have a unique place in our hearts. While many of us may only encounter them through the glass walls of aquariums or the screens of our devices, otters never fail to leave a lasting impression. One particular behavior that has captured the internet’s heart is otters holding paws, a heartwarming gesture that raises questions about their fascinating lives.
The Fuzzy Wonders of Otter Fur
Sea otters are renowned for their incredibly plush fur. In fact, they’ve got the densest fur of any mammals, with up to one million hairs per square inch.
This luxurious fur not only adds to their charm, but also serves a vital role in their survival. Unlike many marine mammals, sea otters lack a layer of blubber. Consequently, their fur plays a critical role in regulating their body temperature. It’s a functional feature on top of being fur-tastic.
The Appetite of Otters
Otters are not only cute, but they’re also voracious eaters. They possess the highest mass-specific metabolic rate of any marine mammal. This means they burn calories rapidly, which makes them need substantial food intake.
In fact, otters can consume up to 25% of their body weight in food daily to meet their energy requirements. They have a clever trick for mealtime efficiency: they store food in large skin folds under their armpits and use their bellies as convenient tables for dining.
Why Do Sea Otters Hold Hands?
When sea otters do hold paws, it serves a practical purpose. One possibility is that this behavior prevents them from drifting apart while they sleep, helping them stay close to their companions. Additionally, holding paws might help keep their delicate paws warm. However, according to Sea Otter Savvy’s Communications Director Heather Barrett, it’s more common for sea otters to cover their eyes with their paws to reduce heat loss.
They also spend a significant amount of time floating effortlessly on their backs. This skill allows them to unwind while remaining stable in the water. In a remarkable display of togetherness and energy conservation, sea otters sometimes form what is known as a “raft.” These rafts consist of groups of otters floating belly-up, typically segregated by gender.
More Than Just Adorable
Sea otters are more than just adorable faces; they are essential components of marine ecosystems with remarkable abilities.
These clever creatures know how to use tools, employing rocks as hammers to crack open prey enclosed in hard shells. Their resourcefulness and adaptability contribute to their success in the wild.