North American River Otters Sliding & Gliding
North American River Otters spend much of their time foraging. They often have a circuit they travel along rivers and lakes which takes them up to a week or more to complete. In between bodies of water, they travel overland on well-used paths, often during the day in winter.
These circuits are miles long, and for much of the time otters lope along in typical weasel fashion. However, in winter the snow permits them to occasionally flop down on their bellies, tuck their front feet next to their chest and push off with their hind feet as they slide effortlessly on top of the snow, both down slopes as well as along flat surfaces. Once they obtain a certain speed, they give their hind legs a rest and lift them off the ground so as not to slow them down as they slide (see photo). Otters have been clocked up to 17 miles per hour running and sliding in this manner.
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