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Sea Otters

Say you weighed 100 pounds. If you were a sea otter, you would eat 20 to 25 percent of your weight daily. That’s like 25 one-pound hamburgers a day! Hold the cheese, please.

Found in the Pacific Ocean, sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have to eat that much. Unlike other marine mammals, they lack blubber to keep them warm. Instead they rely on their supercharged metabolism and dense fur to survive in the near-freezing waters. 

Holding the distinguished honor of Thickest Fur in the Animal Kingdom, sea otters have 1 million hairs per square inch. (Humans, by comparison, carry about 100,000 hair follicles on their head.) Long guard hairs overlay shorter bundles of wooly fur that trap millions of tiny air bubbles for retaining warmth. Fur traders nearly drove sea otters to extinction in the 19th century. While some populations have largely recovered, others are declining anew from environmental problems. The species is still listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Sea otters are among the few mammals to use tools. Floating on its back, a sea otter will vigorously hammer a mussel or clam against a rock on its chest to pry the meal open. When they’re not grooming or eating, sea otters sleep. Sometimes they wrap themselves up in kelp like a blanket—or even “hold hands”—to keep from drifting too far off. 


Buy this lovable otter plush in our online store.

Check out photos, videos and stories of Shedd's otters.

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