Otters: The Animals That Hold Hands

Otters are one of the most loved animals in the entire world. Their cute features and playful manner always has people picking them as their favorite animal. Otters are mammals in the family of Mustelidae. This means that they are related to badgers, ferrets, wolverines, and about 63 other kinds of subfamilies. They are carnivorous animals that feed on invertebrates and fish.

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Otters can range in size with the largest otters weighing up to 90 pounds and the smallest otters weighing as low as 10 pounds. When thinking of an Otter most people pictures the North American River Otter. They have a long narrow body like a ferret, short legs with webbed toes to act as a paddle when swimming, a flattened head to cut through the water like a knife, and thick waterproof fur.

Otters need to live in a community. They constantly interact and work with others of their species to make decisions and work to survive together. When Otters sleep they will interlock arms and create a chain so they do not lose family and friends. Research has found networks of sleeping otters as large as 1,000!

Although Otters have a fun and playful personality, this does not mean you should try and touch them in the wild. In the wild, they are extremely dangerous. Their large sharp teeth used to feed on their prey can also be used for defense against large animals like humans if needed. If you find yourself in contact with an Otter you should keep a distance of at least 25 yards.

One of the coolest things about Otters is how smart they are. On top of creating communities that work together to survive they use tools! Yes, I said tools! They use rocks as a hammer and anvil to break hard-shelled objects open. Then, when they acquire what they are looking for they will store it in a pouch located under their armpit.

Yaks: The Himalayan Cow

The domesticated Yak or the Tartary ox is a type of cattle found in the Himalayas. This long-haired animal looks extremely similar to a buffalo but is found halfway across the world. The Yak is a domesticated mammal that is thought to have originated in Tibet but, is found in areas of Asia that have elevations greater than 4,000 meters.

So, how do Yaks survive at such high altitudes? Over thousands of years and evolutions, Yaks have developed to increase their metabolism, improve foraging ability, enlarged lungs and hearts, and the lack of blood vessel constriction in the lungs due to low oxygen. All of these physiological and anatomical adaptations have made the yak a master of low nutrient and oxygen supply.

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The Himalayas are also some of the coldest places on Earth, with temperatures reaching -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 Celsius). To cope with these frigid temperatures the Yak has developed one of the warmest and densest coats in the world. On the outside of its fur is a layer of long hair that droops past its body. This is one of the main identifying characteristics of a Yak. Below that layer of fur is another even denser layer. This fur is not long, however. Instead, it is short and matted.

At such high altitudes and such low temperatures, the Yak does not find much nutrients. When it does, however, it feeds on grass, flowers, moss, and tubers. This diet and low nutrient availability may make you wonder if Yaks are really that large? The answer to that is yes. They can grow over 6 feet tall and weigh up to 2,200 pounds! Though these bovines are massive and scary they are actually extremely friendly to people. They can recognize faces and are often extremely friendly to people they know. However, if a Yak is aggressive it can use its horns as defense. Their horns are extremely tough and are often used to break through snow and ice.