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  5. Can Otters Live On Land? (The Surprising Truth)

Can Otters Live On Land? (The Surprising Truth)

Can Otters Live On Land? (The Surprising Truth)

Hey, fellow animal lover, did you know that there are 13 distinct species of otters roaming around our planet? They’re classified as aquatic, semiaquatic, or marine creatures, which means that they spend most of their lives in the water. 

Their sleek and slender bodies, webbed feet, and incredible ability to hold their breaths for extended periods make them perfect for swimming and diving. But here’s the million-dollar question – can otters live on land? 

So, if you are interested in learning more about otters and their lives on land, in this article, I will share everything I’ve learned.

Can Otters Live on Land?

No, otters cannot live exclusively on land. Even though they can survive on land, water is essential for their survival. Some otters will come outside the water to travel, eat, or groom their fur. However, all species rely heavily on water for their existence, so living solely on land is not possible

Having established that water is crucial for the survival of otters, let’s explore how each otter species is specifically dependent on water.

North American River Otters

The North American river otter is a semiaquatic animal. They spread across waterways and coasts on the North American continent, and are found in different water habitats, including lakes, rivers, and marshes, among other freshwater places. 

For river otters, the land is a second home.

Offshore river otters can run, walk, or slide. But, spending too much time in the water can cause their fur to waterlog. 

As a consequence, river otters will go into the water to travel or when they are searching for food. On the land, they will rest, sleep, groom, and eat on the ground.

European Otters

European otters are classified as semiaquatic, and they are the most widely spread species. These fellas live in different areas of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and their habitat includes ponds, streams, lakes, and other freshwater places.

European otters spend a lot of their time beside the water, and they are equally deft inside and outside the water.

As a result, European otters will hunt in the water but rest, groom, and sleep on the land.

Sea Otters

Sea otters are marine (fully aquatic) species native to the coasts of the North Pacific Ocean.

They spend the majority of their lives in the ocean and are the most water-dependent otter species. Consequently, sea otters have the densest fur of any animal.

Even though they can walk on land, they will rarely stay out of the water for a longer period of time.

Sea otters usually go on land to avoid marine predators and to warm up. On the other hand, they sleep, eat, and even give birth inside the water.

Giant Otters

Giant otters, as their name implies, are the largest species, whose native range lies within South America; they mostly inhabit places around the Amazon River.

Known to be the most social otter species, giant otters live in family groups where they engage in sleep, play, and feeding sessions together.

Giant otters are well adapted for both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

How Long Can Otters Stay Out of Water?

The amount of time an otter can stay out of water depends on several factors. Such as the species of otter, health, and environmental conditions.

In general, otters can remain on land for several hours or even up to a day, but they will eventually need to return to the water to hunt for food.

European, river, and giant otters, for example, are known to spend more time outside the water than sea otters. However, as mentioned, every species requires regular access to water sources.

Related Otter Article: Do Otters Have The Ability To Breathe Underwater?

How Far Do Otters Travel on Land?

On land, otters can cover distances of up to 18 miles (29 km) in a single day! And besides their long-distance travel ability, they are also quite fast. River otters, for example, can reach speeds of 15 mph (24 kph) on land.

But what’s even more fascinating is how these animals conserve their energy during the winter. Instead of using their legs to walk through snow and ice, they cleverly slide on their bellies to get around. 

It’s like their own little sled that allows them to move with ease while saving energy.

Do Otters Sleep on Land?

Freshwater otters have a variety of resting locations, including offshore and in dens. It’s not uncommon for individual otters to have more than one resting spot.

In contrast, ocean otters rarely venture onto land and instead sleep on the water’s surface, often holding hands with others to stay together.

Otters are highly active animals and require about 11 hours of sleep each day to recharge. While most otter species are active during the day, river otters are an exception and are primarily active at night, making them nocturnal creatures.


In summary, can otters live without water? No! While they can survive on land, their reliance on water is a vital aspect of their existence. 

Each otter species is adapted to its specific aquatic habitat, and although they can travel on land, water remains the cornerstone of their survival. 

Thank you for reading. If you liked this article, here’s another popular read: Are Otters Friendly?

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