River otters are similar to sea otters in that they’re both a type of weasel with long slender bodies, have webbed feet for swimming, are excellent underwater hunters, and have two layers of fur to keep warm in cold water. The main differences between the two are in their size (sea otters are generally larger), their lifestyle (sea otters rarely leave the water and eat an exclusively marine diet), and their swimming style (sea otters float on their backs while river otters swim on their stomachs).
The North American River Otter is considered a species of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, however in the past has been hunted extensively for their fur.
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Photo: Chris Paul/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)