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OttersEcology, behaviour and conservation$
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Hans Kruuk

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198565871

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198565871.001.0001

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Thermo-insulation: a limiting factor

Thermo-insulation: a limiting factor

(p.162) Chapter 10 Thermo-insulation: a limiting factor

Hans Kruuk

Oxford University Press

Thermo-insulation of otters' bodies depends almost entirely on fur. Hair density is relatively high. Body temperature is maintained partly through behaviour, including increased activity before swimming, and length of swimming bouts. It is shown experimentally that in seawater habitats, Eurasian otters, and probably others except sea and marine otters, require freshwater sources ashore and/or in their dens to remove salt from the fur (a requirement that restricts their ranges). All otters show increased grooming associated with seawater. Sea otters also limit cooling by keeping flippers above water, and by improving pelt insulation through blowing air into it.

Keywords:   thermo-insulation, fur, grooming, salt removal, body temperature

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