obtain most of their food from the water. Fish are
favorites: minnows, sunfish, suckers, carp and trout.
Other foods are frogs, turtles, snails, mussels
(an otter crunches the shells with its teeth), crayfish,
snakes and snake eggs, worms, insects, aquatic plants,
roots and, on occasion, muskrats. An otter is a
fast, graceful swimmer, probably the most adept
in water of all the land mammals. It can travel
underwater a quarter-mile without coming up for
air, dive 35-50 feet and, if necessary, stay submerged
up to four minutes. While underwater, valve-like
structures seal an otter's ears and nose, and its
pulse rate drops, slowing blood and oxygen circulation
and making possible long submersion.