Japanese River Otter

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Japanese River Otter

Japanese River OtterOriginal.png

Character Data
Also known as: Japanese Otter
Japanese Name: ニホンカワウソ
Romanised Name: Nihonkawauso
First Featured in: Kemono Friends (2015 Game)
Animal Data
Scientific Name: Lutra nippon
Distribution: Unknown
Diet: Carnivore
Average Lifespan in the Wild: 25 Years
Read More: Japanese river otter
Conservation Status: Status iucn3.1 EX.svg.png
Japanese River Otter Festival Pavilion KF3 Nexon Game Stage Play Gallery

The Japanese River Otter is a type of extinct otter Friend that first appeared in the original Kemono Friends game.


Japanese River Otter bears a striking resemblance to Asian Small-Clawed Otter- she has short cream-brown hair that lightens to white on the bangs. Her ears are small and slightly pointed, and she has dark brown eyes which lack an eyeshine, as is typical for extinct friends. Also like the other otter friends, she wears a one piece swimsuit with a frilled waist, white on the chest and belly but mostly the same cream-brown as her hair. She has fingerless opera-length gloves that come up past her elbow. Her tail closely resembles the actual tail of an otter. Finally, she wears long thigh-high socks which are the same color as her hair and gloves.

In Real Life

A stuffed Japanese river otter exhibited at the "Extinct Animal Research Institute" exhibition held at the Nagoya City Science Museum.

The Japanese River otter is an extinct species of river otter endemic to Japan. It could mainly be seen in wetland and river areas. The last official sighting was in the Kōchi Prefecture in 1979, and was officially declared extinct on August 28, 2012 by the Ministry of the Environment.

Japanese River Otters were relatively small animals, measuring between 65 and 80 cm long. The tail would add an additional 45 to 50 cm. They sported a very soft, lush coat with a dark brown color and webbed feet. These pelts became very valuable as they could be exported as luxury goods. As a result, Japanese river otters started to be hunted throughout the country and their number declined rapidly. The populations made a slight comeback after the creation of hunting regulations, but it was too late. In addition to human pollution and development, the otter's fate was sealed by the late 20th century.

Data has shown that the river otter would shed their under fur fully from May to August. After the shedding of the under fur, the otter shed their guard hair from August to November. This allowed them to adjust to the seasons changing.

They were nocturnal animals, only leaving the dens after dark to forage for food. A typical territory would be about 10 miles (16.09 km) wide and would be marked by droppings one to three miles apart. They would also set up around three to four dens per territory, and would hide them under rocks and bushes. As the Japanese River Otter was always on the move, they only visited the dens every three to four days (one den per day).

Primarily solitary creatures, they spent most of their time on their own unless it was time to mate. They were considered adults by one year old, in which they would set out on their own.

The Japanese river otter primarily fed on fish, crab, and shrimp. It also ate eels, beetles, watermelons, and sweet potatoes. Many otters spend around six hours to find food because of their difficult living space and their competition for food. 

Skeleton of Japanese river otter. Exhibit in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo

Throughout the 1990s, there were several attempts to locate a surviving Japanese otter; In December 1991, the Environmental Agency of Japan, in partnership with the Kochi prefectural government, assembled a research team of experts to begin the search. In March of the following year, the group found hair and excrement samples in Kochi Prefecture which were believed to have come from an otter. Also found were three footprints, and ten additional excrement samples. After some cross-examination, it was determined the hair did come from a species of otter. The hair alone was "scientifically solid evidence that confirms the existence of the Japanese Otter."

In 1994, more experts visited the area where the excrement was found. They discovered traces of urine and set up an infrared camera for six months from October 1994 to April 1995 in an effort to capture it on film. Unfortunately all that was recorded were animals such as raccoon dogs. Then, between March 4 and 9, 1996, more zoo officials began searches in places where it would normally be found, including coastal areas in Susaki, areas along the Niyodo River running through Sakawacho and Inocho, and coastal areas along Shimanto River. Once again, no evidence of the animal's existence was found.

As of 2009, no reputable sightings have been found, and as of 2012 the Japanese River Otter was declared Extinct.

Japanese postage stamp featuring the Japanese River Otter. Issued June 25, 1974 and designed by Mr. Yoshiomi Higashitsunoi. Via istampgallery.com.


  • The Japanese river otter was used as medicine to help cure tuberculosis. Typically a dosage that would last about forty days would cost roughly $300USD (about $5,207USD as of 2023).
  • These animals were able to stay underwater for over two minutes at a time.
  • It is the official animal symbol of the Ehime Prefecture
  • The average lifespan was around 25 years.
  • One Dr. Yoshihiko Machida, a emeritus professor at the Kōchi University, pointed that the previous studies by the prefecture had been restricted only among coastal areas and thus not filling the definition of extinct species by IUCN.


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