Talk:North American river otter

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Good article North American river otter has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Hello to all who visit hereafter!

I am an AP Biology student who is currently editing this article in the hopes that it will eventually reach Featured Article status. I welcome and encourage all who visit to contribute or criticize, albeit constructively, as they see fit. If you see anything that you think should be changed, then, by all means, let me know. I am completely open to suggestions and greatly thankful for any help that might come from the Wikipedia community.

My end goal, as noted earlier, is to nominate and pass this article to Featured Article standing in the coming months. While it will be a difficult road ahead, I hope those of you who took the time to read this will understand my undertaking and seek to help me expand and improve Wikipedia. Also, check out my user page, Wikitrevor, to learn more about my personal connection with this article, or Wikipedia:WikiProject AP Biology 2008 for my AP Biology Class Goals and Project Information.

Cheers, --Wikitrevor (talk) 19:14, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Quick little edit somebody should make, the common otter is the European otter (Lutra lutra), NOT the North American River Otter. That portion should be removed. Also, Lontra canadensis is NOT in decline. Some other river otters are, but not L.canadensis. That should also be removed, especially since they are expanding in most portions of their range. C. Sanders — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:04, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Citation Generator[edit]

Link to a helpful resource—a reference generator.

This is the first really good article (well organized, informative, concise) on an animal I have seen so far: all articles on animals should be like this one.

That being said however, how reliable is the statement that says otters will swim in circles to bring fish up from the bottom?

I've been watching otters in the wild for almost 25 years, and I have never seen that behavior.

I'm going to try to add some detail and elaboration to this article; maybe create a new section or two. What's already here is good, but there's always room for improvement. -JSS

Thanks for your contribution JSS. I would encourage you to consider contributing to this article, and clarifying it. I certainly think someone with your wealth of experience could make a valuable contribution. -DP


I took this at the zoo today, wondered if you would find it useful. Tim Vickers (talk) 02:24, 11 February 2008 (UTC)



They don't regurgitate scales and bones (this could actually be dangerous with the bones). The scales and bones you see are in their scat. C.Sanders — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:01, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Request for Article Adoption[edit]

Hello Wikipedia Users.

I am an AP Biology student in high school that has been tasked with adopting, editing, and enhancing an article in its beginning stages in order to ultimately promote it to Featured Article Status. Upon perusing for lucrative article choices, I came across the North American River Otter article. It seems to be teeming with potential for success. I would like to adopt it, if possible, and work with the Wiki-community to try and get it as far as FA status.

Regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 19:17, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Links and Potential References[edit]

--Wikitrevor (talk) 18:35, 20 December 2008 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:36, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

--Wikitrevor (talk) 20:38, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Inhabitation Areas[edit]

There is a good photo at the IUCN Redlist page on the river otter that indicates the animal's distribution throughout North America. Here is the link: . Would it be possible to translocate the image to this article, or are there setbacks with image compatibility and ownership rights? I believe the image could be well-suited in the Distribution and Habitat section of this article. --Wikitrevor (talk) 15:41, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

For GA and FA, pictures and illustrations are not critical to gaining Good Article or Featured Article status. Note that FA criteria states:

Images. It has images and other media where appropriate, with succinct captions and acceptable copyright status. Non-free images or media must satisfy the criteria for inclusion of non-free content and be labeled accordingly.

And, GA criteria states:
Illustrated, if possible, by images
This is re-emphasized in the GA criteria notes:

The presence of images is not, in itself, a requirement for Good articles. However, if images (including other media) with acceptable copyright status are appropriate and readily available, then some such images should be provided.

The point of all this: forget about the pictures at this stage. To efficiently and quickly get the river otter article to GA, concentrate on building good sourced text. No article that is well written and sourced will be allowed to fail GA or FA just because it has no illustrations. If need be, the illustrations will be provided by the magic of collaboration during GAN or FAC. Don't sweat it. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 23:42, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
  • That is a very good point to bring out. Thank you very much for the advice--it is greatly appreciated. I'll focus on getting this text up to par.

--Wikitrevor (talk) 00:15, 28 October 2008 (UTC)


Wikitrevor, I hope you don't feel like I'm intruding, but I'm trying to clean up some of your sources. I think you have some solid content, but I don't want to see anyone cut you down over something menial such as citations.Strombollii (talk) 03:58, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Actually, ignore that. =]Strombollii (talk) 04:03, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Strombollii, thank you for your assitance. Citations have proven to be somewhat ardous for me, so the support is greatly appreciated.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 21:02, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Of course. I know how much they tend to --well-- suck. If you have any pointed questions, feel free to ask me in class or drop me a note on the wiki. Keep in mind, of course, that I'm no expert, and your mentor surely knows better than myself. I'm just looking out for a fellow studentStrombollii (talk) 03:53, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Articles to compare with[edit]

Hi Wikitrevor, one of the best things is that there are two Featured Articles on otter species to compare with - Sea otter and Giant Otter, so modelling this one on those is a good place to start. First, amke sure you have all the content you want in it, and then work on the copyediting. I will try to note some things the article may be missing. Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:01, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

The susceptibility and seasonal accessibility of prey animals mainly governs the food habits and prey predilection of the river otter - note that I normally wouldn't copyedit before judging whether any more content needed to come in but this needs rewording...nothing comes to mind straightaway..Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:13, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Excellent point Casliber. I'm going to try and get some more "substance" to the article, as it probably wouldn't hurt for me to get some more information up there. I also like the notion of modeling after precedents, like the "sister" otter articles. Thank you very much for your advice.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 22:28, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

No problem, it is now on my watchlist so I will drop back in a week or so to check how your going. Jim gives good advice below too. Cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:37, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


Before you go any further, make sure everything is referenced and that the refs are correctly formatted - I would recommend using cite templates to make sure it's correct. I'm working on Northern Bald Ibis at the moment so you could refer to that as well as the FA otter articles.

  • <ref name = >{{cite web| author = | title= | work= | url= | publisher= | }} Retrieved </ref>
  • <ref name= >{{cite book || last = | first = | coauthors= | title = | year = | publisher = | isbn = |pages = pp. |}}</ref>
  • <ref name= >{{cite journal || last= | first= | coauthors= | month= | year= | title= | journal= | volume= | issue= | pages= | url = | |format = | doi = | quotes = |}}</ref>

Use format <ref name = whatever> instead of <ref> to avoid repeating references, after the first example you just put <ref name = whatever/> to repeat ref.

There is a lot do do reformatting eg

  • Erlinge, S. 1968. Food studies on captive otters Lutra lutra L.. Oikos 19:259-270.

should be

  • Erlinge, S. (1968) "Food studies on captive otters Lutra lutra L." Oikos 19 259–270.

Note that page ranges have an ndash, not a hyphen
I'll wait until you have sorted the references before I comment in more detail jimfbleak (talk) 07:53, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

references should follow punctuation without a space (not all do), and multiple refs should also not be spaced. jimfbleak (talk) 08:01, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Images are very similar; you need a map of the species' range, and I would add some different images, eg a habitat shot, an oil spill or something other than yet another otter
Care in captivity is "how-to" and unsourced - do you need this? jimfbleak (talk) 08:06, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Capitalisation of species' name is inconsistent. jimfbleak (talk) 09:48, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Books need an isbn. Journal refs need a doi if possible (use the doi bot). Write journal names in full. Don't any of the journals have an on-line version to link to? jimfbleak (talk) 09:51, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Thank you very much for your excellent advice. I will be sure to enact these corrections and clean up the references.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 22:44, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

An otter fan site[edit]

An otter fan site - who knew? - called Otterjoy. Has a lot of up to date news links about otters. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 04:25, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Ah, quite interesting! Thank you for the great resource.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 21:35, 9 December 2008 (UTC)


The diet of the river otter can be deduced by analyzing either scat in the obtained in the field[11] [8] [10] [15] [9]...
T. B. I'm hoping you will make it your holiday mission to align the references with the appropriate source. Although it is not mandatory in Wikipedia to use web accessible citations; I would prefer that you do so in order for me to verify your references. If you have access to "hard copy" resources; then simply bring them to class and I will look through them. The example above does not really need 5 source to verify diet is determined by scat. If the information is questionable and may be perceived with some skepticism; then perhaps, multiple source are in order. Other-wise that is over-kill. Content-wise; the article is markedly improved. Don't drop the ball at the end over the verification component! --JimmyButler (talk) 19:50, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
River otters host numerous endoparasites such as nematodes,[34]cestodes,[35]trematodes,[32]the sporozoan Isopora,[32]and acanthocephalans.[36]Ectoparasites include ticks,[37]sucking lice Latagophthirus rauschi,[38]and the flea Oropsylla arctomys'.[39][40]
Did information cited regarding each parasite actually come from different sources? This does not feel right? My teacher instincts make me suspect the "random" shot-gunning of citations. Please provide me with the actual source for verification - or - address this problem via edits. --JimmyButler (talk) 19:54, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Greetings Mr. Butler,

In regards to the multiple citations for the microbiological threats to the Northern river otter, that piece of information came from the IUCN redlist website.

  • North American river otters host numerous endoparasites such as nematodes (Hoberg et al. 1997), cestodes (Greer 1955), trematodes (Hoover et al. 1984), the sporozoan Isopora (Hoover et al. 1984), and acanthocephalans (Hoberg et al. 1997; Hoover et al. 1984). Ectoparasites include ticks (Eley 1977; Serfass et al. 1992), sucking lice Latagophthirus rauschi (Kim and Emerson 1974), and the flea Oropsylla arctomys (Serfass et al. 1992).

For some reason, the passage is a conglomerate of various sources. As a result, I could perhaps look for similar information that can be traced to one source or cite the bundle as "IUCN Redlist..." since that was where the fragments were compiled. Here's the link to the website:

Regards,--Wikitrevor (talk)

All you need to do is cite iucn, it's a reliable source, and you don't need to go back to their original papers. jimfbleak (talk) 07:10, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Roger that, jimfbleak (talk). Thank you for the formatting solution. Best regards,Wikitrevor (talk)

Would it be possible to hang on to those "sub-citations" by creating both a Notes and a Reference section (IUCN could be the parent source and the citations within it could be cited as well)?

--Wikitrevor (talk) 16:07, 26 December 2008 (UTC)

Not good practice, just cite the secondary source (IUCN). jimfbleak (talk) 06:21, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Fish are the primary component of the river otter's diet throughout the year.[6][7][8][11][13][14 ... multiple citations are redundant and impair readability. Just cite one reliable source unless the claim is highly questionable.--JimmyButler (talk) 00:12, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Okay, good point–over-citing does indeed inhibit "readability". This has been taken care of. Thank you for the advice.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 04:51, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Quick suggestion for reference formatting[edit]

I was going over the references, examining the formatting that has been employed with them. Generally, they're formatted well, utilizing all of the templates and MoS that is necessary. That said, one thing did catch my eye. The tendency to cross back and forth between journal links and page #s is a bit on the confusing side. My recommendation to make the references easier to move over would be to put the journal links themselves in a separate "references" section, and then simply put page numbers in a "notes" section (as is done here). I might be able to take a crack at it myself later in the week. Best of luck and happy editing! Cam (Chat) 22:36, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

  • To clean up the references, I believe I'll cite the secondary source, as Jimfbleak mentioned above. Many of my citations were those found within a source. I'll try to establish consistent organization by bundling the fragmented references (i.e. Polechla 1990 came from IUCN Redlist) under which the source from which they came.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 18:52, 22 December 2008 (UTC)


I see that you've been working very hard over the holiday. One area of concern - which I learned the hard way is the use of list. Do not use lists if a passage reads easily using plain paragraphs. You have chosen to incorporate several list within this article which should be converted into text. List are truly frowned upon; although the standards for GA are not as stringent - I truly think that this alone could fail you for GA. Despite the obvious organizational benefits - list are bad juju! --JimmyButler (talk) 22:39, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

This statement contributes nothing to a better understanding of River Otters - I recommend its deletion:--JimmyButler (talk) 00:05, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Among many, some areas of study include southeastern Alaska;[6] Arkansas;[7] northeastern Alberta, Canada;[8] Colorado;[9] Idaho;[10] Minnesota;[11]Oregon;[12]and Pennsylvania.[13]
So true Mr. Butler. I got rid of that sentence, because it did not quite pertain to enlightenment about the river otter itself. I'll convert those lists tomorrow (the clock strikes twelve as I write this...I'm going to bed) and that should help me in the GA nomination. Thank you for your beneficial input.

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 04:55, 29 December 2008 (UTC)


Is the River otter a marine mammal. Taken from your intro. From my take -- it does not primarily inhabit ocean environments and does not seem to fit the criteria established in the link to marine mammals. The otter listed as a marine mammal entry has a different scientific name than the one listed here. Inhabits the mid-western states? Marine?--JimmyButler (talk) 23:21, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

Your correct Mr. Butler. The fancy terminology I slapped on it was, in truth, borrowed from the sea otter article. I'll try and figure out what to call it (semi-aquatic mammal maybe?). Do you have any suggestions on it's general identification?

Regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 04:58, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

On the article, I went ahead and tentatively called it semi-aquatic mammal.

--Wikitrevor (talk) 16:46, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Out here on the west coast, I have only seen river otters in marine environments! They inhabit ocean water in the Strait of Georgia. Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 21:08, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
Here is a reference from the parks department in Victoria, BC
Note the statment: River otters inhabit coastal shorelines, estuaries and tidal flats, rivers, streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes. River otters are relatively common around Victoria, for example in the more natural areas of Esquimalt Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon, as well as along the shorelines between Colwood and Sooke.
Cheers! Wassupwestcoast (talk) 21:13, 29 December 2008 (UTC)
Further references that establish river otters as regularly inhabiting marine habitats in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and Alaska.
  • Mos L, Ross PS, McIntosh D, Raverty S (2003). "Canine distemper virus in river otters in British Columbia as an emergent risk for coastal pinnipeds". Vet. Rec. 152 (8): 237–9. PMID 12625539.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • Bowyer, R. T., J. W. Testa, and J. B. Faro. 1995. Habitat selection and home ranges of river otters in a marine environment: effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Journal of Mammalogy 76:1-11.
  • Testa, J. W., D. F. Holleman, R. T. Bowyer, and J. B. Faro. 1994. Estimating populations of marine river otters in Prince William Sound, Alaska, using radiotracer implants. Journal of Mammalogy 75:1021-1032.
Cheers, Wassupwestcoast (talk) 22:19, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

I have a slight concern with the classification in reference to a small detail that I found on the marine mammal page: primarily ocean-dwelling or depend on the ocean for food. I question the applicability of that detail to the river otter, in that they they primarily inhabit inland bodies of water and consume fissh, etc. from lakes and rivers. However, the possibility of marine mammal still seems like a potential classification. I'll peruse the web some more to gather more details, in addition to the supporting references you provided. --Wikitrevor (talk) 16:29, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

If the sources typically refer to the species as a marine mammal, we should call it that. If the sources don't, we should not use the term marine mammal. The reason it's important to stick very closely to sources in this area is that the term "marine mammal" in both Canada and the U.S. has legal implications. E.g. in the U.S., marine mammals are given a degree of legal protection that terrestrial mammals are not. If some groups consider the species to be a marine mammal and others don't, consider explaining why they differ. Cheers, Clayoquot (talk | contribs) 16:43, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

I found a potential lead, but probably needs more backing before a classification is selected: semi-aquatic weasel. ( *From the Additional Resources section of article.

--Wikitrevor (talk) 18:05, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

From the perspective of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a Canadian federal department, sea otters are marine mammals but no mention is made of river otters.
Marine Mammals
Cheers, Wassupwestcoast (talk) 19:08, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

I suppose semi-aquatic mammal can function as the classification for the present, but I'll fish around some more to ensure that this is the best option (establish certainity for Semi-aquatic mammal, still potential for marine mammal). Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 19:42, 30 December 2008 (UTC) (site uses semi-aquatic mammal description) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikitrevor (talkcontribs) 19:45, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, this is the statement from the wikipedia link for semiaquatic: Semiaquatic animals are those that are primarily terrestrial but that spend a large amount of time underwater, either as part of their life cycle or as an essential behavior (e.g. feeding). Some animals, such as the otter and polar bear, are not considered to be semi-aquatic but rather are referred to as marine mammals, alongside the dolphin, dugong, manatee, and Pinnipeds or seals. Maybe marine mammal was in fact the better choice although I fail to se how it meets that criteria as well. Option C would be to drop the statement completely or "phone a friend"--JimmyButler (talk) 16:34, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Miscellaneous refererences[edit]

  • Serfass, T. L., R. P. Brooks, and L. M. Rymon. 1993. Evidence of long-term survival and reproduction by translocated river otters, LUTRA CANADENSIS. Can. Field-Nat. 107:59-63.
  • Toweill, D. E., and J. E. Tabor. 1982. River otter LUTRA CANADENSIS. Pages 688-703 in J. A. Chapman and G. A. Feldhamer, editors. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore.
  • Tumlinson, R., and S. Shalaway. 1985. An annotated bibliography on the North American river otter, LUTRA CANADENSIS. Oklahoma Coop. Fish and Wildl. Res. Unit, Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater.


Both are Featured Articles. We will have to model North American River Otter on them if we want this article to pass GA and FA status. Although making comparisons to other FA articles is supposed to *not* happen in the FA process, it does. If we can get river otter up to FA status, I think it might be the animal whose major groupings will all have FA articles: the sea otter, the giant otter, and the river otter are all representatives of the three major groupings of otters. Cheers, Wassupwestcoast (talk) 14:48, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

That's right. The window is open for us to come in and fill in the final major group. I think we have a very good shot at FA status. I've done some slight modeling after those FA's here and there, and some additional tweaking may be needed. We may have the general form cut out of it, now it's some chiseling to get it there. We're right around the corner the corner from GA (hopefully)!

Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 16:32, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

GA Achievement[edit]

I sincerely appreciate the beneficial contributions made by everyone to North American River Otter. Thanks to DanaBoomer for the GA Nomination support, Wassupwestcoast for helping me expand and edit the article, Shyamal for the synthesis of a range map, JimmyButler (my teacher) for his guidance, and all those who improved this article in any way.

Best regards,--Wikitrevor (talk) 02:48, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Latin name[edit]

isn't it lutra canadensisn instead of lontra canadenses. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Smartpotatoe (talkcontribs) 19:38, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

  • Lontra canadensis is the standard identification for this mammal. However, the species was in fact formerly known as Lutra canadensis. Best regards, --Wikitrevor (talk) 23:27, 23 March 2009 (UTC)


On the otter project. The sub-heading for each food type "fish" "birds" "mammals" etc... seems excessive or perhaps disconnected. Is there a way to summaries their diet under one heading. That much detail on food sources seems cumbersome. If you note in the talk above - Wassup - provide links to the two other otter articles - both of which are FA. I really suggest setting yours up using their subheadings. This may require significant restructuring as well as deletion and addition of text; however, it is your best shot at FA. Once you get things set up; maybe you can recruit some experts that contributed to the other otters FA. This does not have to occur in a vacuum. Collaboration - it seems has been the key to success of the other FAs in this project. Band of Beavers? Very funny.--Croatancrazy (talk) 02:02, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Remove Priesthood Signs while Retaining Accuracy[edit]

While I appreciate the extensive information, good organization and attention to detail in this article, I am bothered that this article, about an animal loved by millions, is unnecessarily opaque in a few small parts.

It seems important to remember how Wikipedia is not a scientific journal for a few experts, it is an encyclopedia intended to be understood by the general public.

To quote Mark McDayter of Western University "academics write such dense jargon in such specialized fields that almost no one can understand them."

This article is an unfortunate (however mild) example of a "priesthood" where the author chose obscure terms, when everyday terms would be understandable by far more (likely magnitudes) readers and just as accurate; sometimes arguably even more accurate.

For example: the article uses the obscure term "pelage" which simply means "fur;" "Crepuscular" (however beautifully exotic) means "twilight", "rhinarium" means "nose area", and "conspecifics" is used rather than "other otters."

It is even worse when there is no embedded link for the reader to follow for these obscure words.

One good example of doing it better is where the main Otter article uses "vibrissae (whiskers)" in the Physical characteristics section. This method has the advantage of teaching what the words mean.

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