The River Otter

Awaking me from slumber, my mother nudges my sensitive forepaws. 

I turn over mumbling, "leave me alone wicked witch" and continue my rest. All of a sudden I feel a clobber square in the face.

Beaten out of comfort, we crawl to our den into the dim light of the setting sun; it is time to hunt. 

Leading the way to the edge of the river, I follow her the short distance as my strong non-retractable claws grip the surface beneath me while the tufts of hair between my digits overlapping my palmer, plantar, and digital pads enable me to gracefully climb over the slippery rocks alongside the river.

Our hind legs are longer than the fore, and our bones are very strong, helping us travel across our habitat. 

As my mother skillfully submergers herself into the dark water she disappears from my vision, and I know I must follow close behind. These murky waters are no match for mothers vibrissae. She senses movements in the water hundreds of feet away. 

Upon entering the water, the sudden temperature change does not affect me as my short, dense wool hairs trap air as insulation while water adheres to the distal ends of my hollow guard hairs and proceeds to bead off, essentially making my coat waterproof. 

Immersing my head under the water, my valve like structures of my ears and nose close, as my eyes adjust. My specialized lens and cornea correct for the refraction of light caused by the transition from aerial to aquatic vision, enabeling me to focus my vision both on land and water.

I can see my mother ungulating her body and long powerful tail to propel foward as her hind legs help to steer. Our tails are great contributors to our ablity to move through the water accounting for one third of our total body length as we have twenty-two caudal vertebrae, allowing us to reach speeds of uo to seven MPH in the water.  

I take comfort in hunting with my mother, as I know I will not go hungry in her prescence, although I know I cannot rely on her for much longer; she will soon have new babies to feed. I feel like I am always hungry; call me fat but when I eat, my food is digested in about an hour, its not my fault I have such a fast metabolic rate.

I see my mother rise up and is making her way towards me. My large nasal fossae and well developed turbinate's are experienced enough to know that the usual mussel, crab, and crayfish seafood platter is not approaching.

This is something mother has been preying. She took a long deep dive. She must have been underwater for about four minutes. Which the structural modificationg in her lungs and bronchial trees allows. Mothers ablity to undergo bradycardia while submerged lets her conserve oxygen.

I patiently wait for my mother to resurface, hoping hat she comes up with a delicious treat.

Frantic movements beneath me capture my attention. I readily close the distance between us.

I drive my thirty- two teeth into its body. My two powerful incisors crush the shell. 

Hardly able to contain my excitement, I swiftly move towards the surface to show my mother what I had accomplished. Upon resurfacing I discovered my mother was gone, nowhere to be seen. I knew at that moment my mother did not expect me to return back to the den.

I also know she would be so proud of me. With the moonlight as my guide, and dinner secured between my teeth, I moved towards an area of the riverside I had not yet been, suddenly eager to embark on a new journey.