When Do Sea Otters Have Their Babies?

Sea otters are often seen with their adorable pups. You might want to know more information about sea otter pups. So, when do sea otters have their babies?

Sea otters have their babies anytime, but January to March are the most common months. They carry their pups for around four months before giving birth. Female sea otters will have their first pup at four years old. Usually, mothers only give birth to one pup but can have twins.

The process of sea otters giving birth is quite similar to humans. If you want to learn more about sea otter pregnancy and pups, keep reading.

This guide covers all the necessary information about a sea otter pregnancy. We will look at how they give birth and when.

Let’s dive in.

How long are sea otters pregnant

When do sea otters have their babies?

Sea otters can give birth anytime in the year, but it often peaks during certain seasons. The average months can also vary on where the sea otter lives.

In California, sea otters will give birth between March and September. For sea otters in Alaska, the average is May to June.

Like other otters, sea otters can give birth every year. But due to their longer birth intervals, they don’t give birth as often as other otter species.

They give birth every two years, raising their pups until they are six months old. A female sea otter will have around three pups in its lifetime.

Sea otters have one baby instead of multiple in a litter. 2% of sea otter births result in twins, but the mother can only raise one.

A mother sea otter must abandon one, as raising two pups at a time can be too difficult. The abandoned pup is estimated to live around 24 hours unless it is rescued.

Mother sea otters will care for their pups for five to six months before leaving them to forage themselves and begin mating. During these months, she will nurse them, groom them and teach them how to hunt and swim.

Where do sea otters give birth?

Sea otters choose to give birth in the water. They are the only otter species to do this, as river otters tend to give birth ashore in dens.

They don’t always give birth in the water and have been observed coming onto land to deliver their pup(s) instead. A few years ago, a wild sea otter was spotted going into the tidal pool at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium in California to give birth.

She gave birth near the rocks near the pool and pulled the baby out with her forepaws. After the birth, the grooms the pup to ensure it’s buoyant and warm.

Grooming is essential for baby sea otters and not only helps them stay afloat. It keeps their blood flowing and starts up internal systems like the digestive system.

According to the staff at the aquarium, there was a storm, so the sea otter came to the aquarium to ensure it was safe. This suggests that mothers choose their birthplace based on safety and not convenience.

How do sea otters mate?

Sea otters will mate all year round. The mating process begins when a male sea otter courts a female sea otter.

During courting, the male will swim with its face down faster than usual. When it encounters a female, it will try to sniff and embrace her.

If the female shows any interest, they will start to play and roll around in the water. If she isn’t interested, she will push the male away.

After the initial meeting period, they will separate from the group and begin to mate. While mating, the male can get aggressive and bite the female’s nose to hang onto her.

He will also wrap his forelegs around her chest. Although it takes around 15 to 30 minutes, it can be painful for the female.

Even if the male is rejected, sometimes they will force the female to mate. The male will bite the female sea otter’s neck to subdue her.

This biting behavior results in severe wounds for the female, including the male biting her nose off. A survey revealed that 4% of female sea otters died from injuries.

A male can also drown a female during the process. There are many reports of females drowning in mating.

How do sea otters raise their young?

The mother will nurse it with her milk for the first six to eight of the pup’s life. It will drink the milk from the two abdominal nipples as the mother holds the pup belly down.

Sea otter milk contains around 20% to 25% fat, which helps the sea otter pup achieve a healthy weight. Alongside the milk, she will also forage for some food too.

The mother provides them with milk while the pup is still blind. Once the pup gains its vision, it can eat tiny fish and some plants.

This period only lasts until the pup is two months old. At two months old, the pup will begin to eat what the mother hunts.

While the mother hunts, the pup will be alone above the water. To prevent the pup from drowning, the mother will inflate the baby’s fur to keep it buoyant. This is achieved because the mother spends several hours grooming the pup’s fur.

The mother will also teach the pup how to hunt during this time. This includes how to dive, kill and also avoid predators.

The mother will grab the pup by its neck with her teeth if there is danger nearby. She will then dive down until they find safety.

Sea otter mothers will get very defensive of their young. They will aggressively attack any intruders, including other sea otters.

How do sea otters grow?

Sea otter pups will learn to swim at around four weeks old. They will also begin to eat solid food instead of only drinking their mother’s milk.

At around six weeks, they will become more confident with swimming. This is when they will learn how to dive with their mother.

Once they are more confident with diving, they will begin to forage with their mother at two months old. They won’t go on their own yet and stay under the supervision of their mothers.

During the next six months, the sea otter will become more capable of surviving independently. The mother will teach it how to forage and use tools like rocks to crack open hard-shelled prey.

After they leave their mothers at six months, they will hunt for themselves. When the sea otter meets sexual maturity, two to four for females and three to six for males, they will find mates.

In conclusion

Sea otters will give birth at any time during the year. The most common months for sea otters to be born in March and September for southern sea otters and May to June for northern sea otters.

Female sea otters give birth at the age of four to five. They give birth approximately every two years.

A sea otter’s litter consists of one pup. Sometimes a mother can have twins but will abandon one as she can only take care of one.

A mother sea otter will teach her pup how to hunt and swim. Once they are six months old, they will separate and live independently.

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