What do river otters eat?

Updated November 21, 2016

There are several kinds of river otters, including the North American, Southern, Eurasian and Neotropical river otters. While fish is their main diet, they are opportunists and eat what they can catch.

North American

The North American river otter (lontra canadensis) eats fish, amphibians (like frogs), turtles and crayfish. Sometimes it also eats small mammals. This otter is also found in lakes, swamps and at the coast but should not be confused with the sea otter, which is a separate species.


The Southern river otters (lontra provocax) is found in Chile and Argentina. It eats fish, crustaceans, mollusks and birds. Its habitat is not restricted to rivers; it also lives in coastal waters.


The Neotropical otter (lontra longicaudis) is found in Trinidad, South and Central America. It eats fish and crustaceans.


Also known as the European otter (lutra lutra), this animal primarily eats fish. However, it also eats crustaceans, birds, small mammals, insects, frogs and crustaceans.

Fun Fact

In 1927, Putnam & Sons published Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter, a novel about the life of an otter. It has become one of the classics of British children's literature.

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