Animals > Mammals > carnivores (carnivora) > Sea Otters Sea Otters
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What are they like?
With long, streamlined bodies, sea otters are built for life at sea. They have exceptionally thick brown fur with densities of 26,000 to 165,000 hairs/cm2, insulating the animal and retaining heat. Sea otters have sebaceous gland secretions of squalene, which are normally found only in minor concentrations in other mammals. This creates an effective barrier between the water and the skin and acts as a substitute for subcutaneous insulating fat, as the otters have only 1cm of it. Underneath each powerful front paw is a pouch of skin used to temporarily store food collected during extended dives to the bottom. The front paws also have retractable claws, while the hind flippers are long & broadly flattened and webbed. The fifth digit on the hind flipper is the longest, unlike that of any other mammal and this makes walking on land difficult. Sea otters have a fairly short, thick, muscular tail. They have no scent glands.
They have specially adapted spinal columns and bone structures to allow great flexibility. Sometimes the bones will be dyed pale violet from eating purple sea urchins and absorbing polyhydroxynaphthoquinone. They have 38 chromosomes. Sea otters have large lung capacity compared to pinnipeds: 2 to 4 times greater in size. Sea otters store 66% of their oxygen in their lungs, so the large lungs are well suited for their brief shallow dives. This also helps with buoyancy.
Sea otters have a highly unique eye development for mammals, leading to an accommodation at least 3 times greater than any other mammal. This enables them to see clearly and focus on objects above and below water. They are roughly emmetropic in both conditions.
Sea otters have compact molars with smooth cusps; they are the only carnivore with no more than four lower incisors. Male sea otters may reach a maximum weight of 45 kilograms (nearly 100 pounds) and a length of up to 1.5 metres (nearly 5 feet). Females are smaller. Males are generally 35% heavier and 8% longer and have heavier heads and necks.
In the wild the sea otters live perhaps 15-20 years, and can live longer than 20 years in captivity.
How do they look like?
Which classification do they belong to?
Group: carnivores (carnivora)
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