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Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

Our Exhibits Meet State Standards!

Our diorama halls are just one place where teachers and chaperones can meet State Standards! To download easy-to-use field trip guides that are aligned with Standards.
Learn More

Why are Polychaete Collections Important?

Our understanding of how the oceans operate and affect our very existence is dependent upon understanding the diversity of life in all ocean habitats. Learn more >


River otter

Lontra canadensis (Schreber, 1777)

River otter diorama in the North American Mammal Hall


 Cypress swamp near Tallahassee, northern Florida


 Mrs. B. E.Besinger, III

River otters have large and abundant whiskers that are very sensitive and are used extensively in hunting, because smell, vision, and hearing are diminished in the water.

They are important parts of healthy, aquatic ecosystems but have been hunted extensively for many years for their attractive and durable fur.

Biological Information

Range map for the river otter


North America (northern Alaska, Hudson Bay, north Quebec and Labrador south to central California, Arizona, Texas, Gulf Coast and Florida


Freshwater streams and lakes


Formerly widespread throughout North America but now rare in well-populated regions of the East and Midwest. Native to northern and central California and fully protected under California state law


Crayfish frogs, turtles, fish, aquatic invertebrates

Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for river otter.