Don Balke: River Otter
Artist: Don Balke
The playful River Otter makes its home along Florida's winding river banks and marshes. The streamlined Otters frolic with each other in the cool waters playing endless games of follow-the-leader, occasionally popping to the surface to rub noses with their playmates. Another favorite pastime for the Otter is romping up a slippery mudbank to hurl themselves down the hill ... sliding back into the cool water with a resounding slap. The River Otters chirp, chuckle, and squeal with delight as they romp with one another along the riverbank. On land, the River Otter gallops along awkwardly on its short legs and webbed feet ... but in the water this sleek mammal is an expert swimmer who can out swim most fish. The Otters live in snug dens that they build near the water's edge. In early spring, one to five baby River Otters are born. The youngsters will remain in their cozy home for nearly twelve weeks depending upon their mother for food. At three months of age, the playful Otters will emerge from the den for the first time. The mother teaches her youngsters how to use special muscles for closing ears and nostrils when they swim, and how to use their streamlined bodies to catch swift fish. The young River Otters also learn how to catch other favorite foods including crayfish, frogs, insects, and small mammals that live along the riverbanks. Soon the youngsters will cavort in and out of the rivers of Florida, frolicking with one another and enjoying life thoroughly.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® commemorative cover for the Baby Wildlife of the 50 States, postmarked March 3, 1984.
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