8 photos - 1 species


Maximum length: 70 cm 

The male has a thick, long tail of 50 cm and the female 40 cm. The weight varies between 7 kg (female) and 10 - 14 kg (male). Their head is flattened and their broad muzzle is covered with many long and strong whiskers. The ears are small and round. The coat is dark brown in colour. It is only greyish on the throat, shoulders and belly. Some animals also have white patches on the throat.

Their elongated body is fully adapted to life in the water. It is very streamlined. Its thick and muscular tail guarantees excellent propulsion. It also serves as a rudder when changing direction quickly. Its four webbed paws are used for propulsion on the surface of the water. When it wants to accelerate, it performs vertical, wave-like movements with its front body. The front paws are placed backwards on the flanks. Its dense fur, which has up to 60,000 hairs per cm2, consists of two hair types: The fine, shorter hairs are 10 to 15 mm long and form a dense layer in which air bubbles collect, acting as insulation when swimming. The longer guard hairs, which grow up to 25 mm long, are water-repellent thanks to oily secretions from skin glands. When diving, the ears and nose are hermetically sealed. Due to a curvature of the eye lenses, it can see better in clear water. At night or in murky water, its snout hairs help it to orientate itself or track down its prey. They normally only stay under water for a short time (up to 40 seconds). It is less agile on land, where it moves by running or jumping, but thanks to its extremely good sense of smell it can detect a human up to 100 metres away.

Photos 1 - 8 Johnny: Oberhausen in Germany