Can Otters Live On Land?

Currently, there are 13 different otter species in existence. They are all aquatic, semiaquatic, or marine. As a result, for most of them, water is the main habitat.

Their bodies are slim and long. Equipped with strong webbed feet and the ability to hold their breath for a longer period of time. Otter’s physical design is perfect for the aquatic world.

And if you saw an otter outside the water, you may wonder: can otters live on land?

No, otters can’t live on land exclusively. They can survive on land; however, water is necessary for their existence. Some otter species will come on land to travel, eat, or groom their fur. Yet, otters, to a large degree, depend on the water, so living on land only is not possible.

If you are interested more in otters and their life on land, in this article, I will share everything I’ve learned.

Can otters live on land?

North American river otter

The North American river otter is a semiaquatic animal. They spread across waterways and coasts in the North American continent. Found in different water habitats, including lakes, rivers, and marshes, among other freshwater places. For them, the land is a second home.

Offshore North American 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 otter

European otters are semiaquatic species, and they are the most widely spread among all otter species. They live in different areas of Europe, Asia, and Africa. European otters’ habit includes ponds, streams, lakes, and other freshwater places.

Their habitat is beside the water, and they are equally deft in and outside the water. Most of the time, European otters will hunt in the water, but rest, groom and sleep on the land.

Sea otter

Sea otters are marine mammals native to the coasts of the North Pacific Ocean. Most of their life is in the ocean. They are the most water-dependent otter of all species. Sea otters possess the densest fur in all animal kingdoms.

Even though they can walk on land, they will rarely stay out of the water for a longer period of time. Sea otters sleep, eat, and even give birth inside the water.

Giant otter

Giant otters whose native range lies within South America; inhabitants mostly in the Amazon river. Known to be the most social otter species. Living in family groups, giant otters will sleep, play and feed together. Their fur is super dense, making them water repellant (keeping the skin dry).

Giant otters are primarily terrestrial, but they will spend most of the time in the water.

Do otters eat on land?

Otters will spend the majority of their lives hunting and eating. And they are among the few animals that use tools for hunting.

Sea otters will feed in the ocean, and they will use stationary rocks as anvils. Freshwater otters will feast on small prey inside the water. While bigger prey will be eaten outside the water.

How long can otters stay out of water?

European, North American, and giant otters are semiaquatic animals that can stay outside of the water for a longer period. However, their hunting skills are much more developed in the water. On the other hand, sea otters will live completely in the ocean.

How far will otters travel on land?

North American river otter is the species that travel the most. They are quite mobile.

On the surface, they will walk, slide, run, and jump. North American river otters can travel up to 40km in one day. Still, during wintertime, they will travel much less.

While on the surface, otters will groom their fur almost continuously in order to maintain their water resistance.

Where do otters sleep?

Freshwater otters will mainly rest and sleep offshore or in dens. Individual otters may have more than one resting location.

Freshwater otters aren’t picky about where they sleep and frequently do so even in mildly disturbing settings. In other words, they have multiple areas to relax and rest.

On the other hand, otters found in the ocean almost never go on land. Sea otters are known to sleep in the ocean, floating on the water’s surface.

In addition, they will oftentimes hold their hands with another otter to prevent themselves from drifting away from the group.

Since they are very active creatures, otters sleep and rest for about 11 each day to regain energy.

Most otter species are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day and sleep at night. Despite not being primarily nocturnal creatures, river otters are an exception and are most active at night.


Otters can stay on the land. Yet, all species spend a significant part of their lives inside the water, as their main food source comes from the aquatic world. Freshwater otters will go offshore to maintain their fur, rest, or sleep.

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