E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Lontra canadensis (Schreber, 1777)
River Otter
Family: Mustelidae
Photo of species

© David Blevins  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #12510)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Lontra canadensis in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information

The River Otter is a semi-aquatic member of the Weasel Family about the size of a bassett hound that is easily recognizable by its long thick body, short legs and long thick tail (Hatler et al. 2008). The coat is brown, although the undersides are usually grayish.

River Otters are mostly active between dusk and dawn but can be seen during the day. They are very playful and often used slides. They also often 'porpoise' (swim near the water surface, undulating in and out of the water (Hatler et al. 2008). We have watched this behaviour in the Squamish estuary on a foggy day.

River Otters are found throughout British Columbia, and occupy much of their original pre-European settlement range (Hatler et al. 2008).


Although there is no genetic evidence to support them, 3 subspecies are reported for British Columbia: 1) Lontra canadensis mira (most of coastal BC), 2) Lontra canadensis pacifica (mainland of BC east of the Coast Mountains, 3) Lontra canadensis periclyzomae (Queen Charlotte Islands) (Hatler et al. 2008).

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Hatler, David F., David W. Nagorsen and Allison M. Beal. 2008. Carnivores of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum Handbook, Victoria.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-04-21 9:39:27 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC