Everybody knows the story of Sea Otter, Enhydra ultras, but many people have never really heard of his smaller cousin, River Otter, Lontra canadensis. Sea Otter is gone from this part of the California coast thanks to over hunting long ago, but River Otter is still here. He is a shy fellow and we don't see him very often, but if you are very lucky you might catch a glimpse. He can be found in the Gualala River, in our little streams in the western part the Ranch, and in the ocean just offshore as he forages for fish, amphibians, and sometimes for birds, and small rodents. Some of the books say that he prefers to do his hunting at night, but we have seen him at different times throughout the day, so you should keep your eyes open as you wander around wet places in the Ranch.
River Otter has a thick coat of fur, but, fortunately for him, it is not as luxurious as that of his cousin, Sea Otter. People have pretty much left River Otter alone and that suits him just fine. He does, however, resent the fact that people are always talking about how cute his cousin is. He feels that he is just as good-looking even if he does not float around posing for the camera. He is also not afraid of poking his nose in the mud while hunting - something his vain cousin would never stoop to doing.
People talk about their hardy pioneer ancestors that drove their wagons across the prairies in the nineteenth century to reach California. River Otter says Pooh! His ancestors migrated to California across the Bering Straits land bridge more than a million years ago.