If you’ve been on a boat or trip on the northern sides of the country or in California’s waters, you may have probably seen sea otters holding hands on the water and wonder why do sea otters holding hands when sleeping. More interestingly, otters wrap themselves and their pups in seaweed. But why do otters hold hands and wraps pups in seaweed? So let’s find whom sea otters holding hands with and why do sea otters holding hands in the water.
The Short Answer…
Similar to prairie dogs that kiss for a purpose, sea otters hold hands is to avoid drifting and losing pups in the water while they are sleeping. In fact, otters wrap themselves and baby otters with kelp to prevent drowning while they are out for hunting. But sea otters handing hands is also due to fear of losing their female partner to another male. Sea otters may hold hands of their family, friend, and relatives to keep track of but also watch, listen, and keep in touch with each other.
A recent study from the Wildlife Sydney Zoo also reported that they do it in order to save each other from drafting.
Sea Otters Holding Hands – Why Do Otters Hold Hands of Each Other?
For those who have seen sea otters holding hands, and for those who have only heard, it’s the question of those and most people who have seen otters, in fact, otters are often found holding the hands frequently. If you’ve ever seen otters, chances are you may have likely seen them holding hands with each other. It might seem very cute and adorable act, but this practice serves an important and necessary need for them. Here’s the complete answer.
To Avoid Drifting & Losing Each Other
Almost no animal sleeps on their back on land except humans however, no animals sleep on their back, float on the water holding hands of each other except otters. But why do sea hold hands? Here’s the answer.
One of the wonderful and amazing qualities of the otters is, sea otters holding hands when sleeping. While staying together is important for otters, they do definitely what they can for it, so they hold hands of each other. This is what mostly otters are popular and known for. It’s a pretty lovely, romantic, and caring practice.
Sea otters are vulnerable and endangered species which have lots of predators, with humans being the largest and continuous predator of all time. People have been hunting them for their highest quality of fur and only a few of them have left now. The sea otters are hunted for its fur as otters have the thickest fur than any animals which is 600,000 to 1,000,000 hairs per square inch.
Being the weakest and helpless mammals, they take care of each other, especially pups. Just as romantic or caring as it may seem, it also serves the same. Sea otters hold hands to avoid drifting and losing each other while sleeping. Often otters together in a group are a family and a group of sea otters sleeping in the water is called a raft. And holding hands of each other is the likely behavior of rafts and finds it comforting.
Similar to humans and whales that are mammals and breastfeed their baby, sea otters are also mammals and breastfeed their baby but in the land. When hunting otters attach themselves and their pups entirely with kelp that floats and avoids drifting despite pups have the thickest fur that doesn’t easily let them sink but can move them away and her mother will lose them. Sometimes, the mother takes and puts the pup offshore far away from other otters, and then goes for hunting. When traveling, sea otters carry their pups on their belly and covers the pup with kelp so it doesn’t float or drown.
An otter usually spends time grooming and cleaning himself with their tongue but since pups can’t do it themselves, her mother will do it for her.
Who Do Otters Hold Hands? – Sea Otters Holding Hands
Not everyone around otters will holds hands of. Just like us, otters hold the hands of their loved ones that can be but are not limited to, their babies (pups), mate, and family members.
Their Babies (Pups)
When otters are first born, they are actually blind and not even able to swim, they are basically just little corks floating at the surface of the water. In fact, otters pup’s fur is even denser from her mother that doesn’t easily drown up but since it doesn’t know swimming, it may drown.
Thanks to the pup coats. Seaweeds are the life jackets for otters and their pups that prevent from drowning in the water while she hunts. But that doesn’t really help when there’s a wave, hurricane, storm, or even in a regular condition. That’s why a mom usually holds her hands and takes her pup everywhere carrying it on her belly and even hauling it through the open ocean with her teeth. Some otters prefer more protected habitats and would make their habitats miles away. And so she drags her pup to the home far away, which takes a precious amount of time and energy. Sometimes she hauls her pup out onto boat swim snip. She uses a step as a playpen to keep the pup safe while she hunts.
However, sometimes otters may take her pup offshore instead of covering them with seaweeds.
Otters are not underwater creatures and don’t have gills like fishes, so they do breathe like dolphins and could stay inside the water 5 – 8 minutes. Here’s why dolphins jump out of water? That means, both otter and her pup could actually float but no, that’s not true. While adult otters are swimmers, they can easily survive however, pups can’t swim, travel like squirrels travel far away, and survive.
Since otters can mate and have a pup any time in a year, there is high competition between male otters for finding a mate. And so male otters hold their female hands to keep the female near and avoid losing them.
Family Members & Relatives
Most animals leave, forget, or cuts their family and relationships when it is full grown up. However, it is not the case here. Otters have a strong relationship between family members and unlike squirrels and most rodents in which the father of the family leaves them, instead otters are protected by their father of the family and will remain in his protection.
Occasionally, otters will hold the hands of a relative. Though otters are friendly creatures (not really for humans) but for their family members and somehow for their relatives, sometimes otters will grab and hold their relatives hands in hard times to not lose them. But quite usually otters hold their baby or mate’s hand.
Where Do Otters Sleep?
Otters are one of the most unique adorable aquatic creatures and their fur is the finest and thickest of the animals. Otter swim, dive, hunt, live, and even sleep in the water. In fact, they are mostly on their back like sleeping and sea otters sleep about 11 hours on their back in the sea floating there.
The freshwater otters often sleeps on the water but the river otters will usually sleep on land or above the ground or in dens. Both of the species usually sleep in a quiet and calm vicinity or at least in a less noisy area. That can be in the middle of the sea, freshwater, streams or anywhere else.
Do All Species of Otters Hold Hands?
While there are about 13 species of otters, not all of them live and sleep on the water. Most of them live in sea, freshwaters, streams, lakes, rivers. However, river otters (referred to as North American river otters) mostly live in dens but don’t build dens or dams of their own, instead, they conquer dens of beavers or other animals and simply sleep in there. If you don’t know about beaver and whether they can be pet or not, here’s can beavers be pet. Not only they are already built but they are also closest to the water so otters can simply dive into the water.
River otters are half-land otters which do live in the water and on the land and sleeps in dens. But that doesn’t mean river otters don’t hold hands as they don’t sleep in the water. River otters also hold hands of their pups, mates, family members and relatives just like other species of otters. The only difference is, river otters don’t do it sleeping in the water means, they only hold hands when they are awake and in the water and don’t sleep in the water. Other species of otters hold hands in the water whether they are slept or awake.
That brings us to the result, all species of otters hold hands when sleeping but only rivers otters hold hands when awake and don’t sleep on the water, but does the river otter hold hands out of the water in the dens? It’s unclear yet.
How Otters Can Sleep on The Water?
As Sea otters are aquatic animals, they have many features of it. Starting from its head, it has water-resistant eyes, rounded or pointed ears that close in the water, and also close nostrils in the water. However, its teeth are sharp and accustomed to many foods and diets that crash and grind shells of invertebrates. They are carnivorous and eat small marine animals but may also include small weak animals unlike raccoons that eat everything. In addition to it, they have also two pair of incisors which is only in sea otters. Otters are armed with whiskers which help them detect sound and find out the prey.
Other than that, their main features of resisting in water are, otters fur, that is probably one of their exceptional feature which is quite thick, shiny and doesn’t let them easily sink but surf in the water. But that isn’t the only thing that lets them floating on the water. otters are equipped with palmate feet (same as duck’s feet) especially for swimming, long pipe-shaped tail which is quite essential for swimming, limbs, claws, long flexible body which helps them clean and groom themselves and have lots of tiny and small features.
However, sleeping in the water is their unique quality and feature, and otters can live, swim, and sleep in the water comfortably and that leads to living in the water. All of their body is built for water and with these characteristics, they can easily sleep on the water.
What Else Otters Do When Floating
Neither sea otters nor other otter species only sleep on the water. Otters are awake 13 hours of a day on the water and is lying back floating on the water. But what do they do aside from sleeping and holding hands on the water?
While holding hands are their primary priority, and otters are fussy eaters and find and grab food. They take a stone from underwater, puts on her belly and bashing it open, and eating it when floating. Otters need to eat for nearly half their day and need to eat about a quarter of their body. Their diet isn’t a particular thing, they are carnivorous and eat whatever sort of insects, fishes, and shells. However, since they are mammals and have sweet buds, they would also eat chocolates like raccoons eat chocolates but are toxic for them.
Otters also spend more than a quarter of their time grooming, a wash and brush up essential for fur maintenance. But a mother’s work is more than just preparing herself. She also needs to groom and clean her pup. Particularly she will have to suckle her pup about 12 times a day. Otters use their paws, tongue to do the washing and also brush their teeth and wash their face.
It’s an entirely appealing and fascinating scene. If you haven’t seen otters or this scene, you may consider visiting otters sometimes.