Dietary Considerations

Sea otters require a lot of food even in rehabilitation! Just like wild sea otters, otters in rehabilitation may be fed a diet that includes many different food items.  Otters that are permanent residents in facilities such as U.C. Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory are fed a diet that includes shrimp, surf clam, and squid.

Proper food preparation and handling techniques are a critical component of sea otter husbandry, whether the otter is a permanent or temporary resident of a facility. Some of the food preparation considerations that must be addressed include whether or not to shell shrimp, the size of individual pieces, or whether the pen should be removed from squid. Many factors ultimately go into how food is prepared including the health, age, and history of the individual otter, the time and manpower available for food preparation as well as how the food pieces are going to be delivered. For otters in rehabilitation that are destined to be released, it is critical that human caregivers do not become associated with food, thus food may be delivered in food toys or from behind a mask or blind. Thus, how food is prepared will also depend on the mode of delivery. The attending veterinarian and lead husbandry staff will ultimately determine what food will be fed to individual otters and how it will be prepared.

In the following video an animal care specialist from Long Marine Lab details some of the common dietary items that are fed to sea otters in captivity or undergoing rehabilitation.


What types of food are otters fed during rehabilitation? The Inner Otter