The sleek river otter is well adapted for life in the water. Webbed toes, small ears that close underwater, and a streamlined body allow this excellent swimmer to stay underwater for up to two minutes. There it searches for its food: fish, muskrats, birds, turtles, frogs, and freshwater mussels.
Otters are graceful in the water, but on land, they move with a lope.
Once found all along Illinois’ rivers, trapping and habitat destruction had nearly eliminated them by the late 1900s. Thanks to a program to reintroduce them to Illinois, populations are slowly on the rise.