Sea Otters Holding Hands: Why They Do It

sea otters holding hands

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A sea otter floating calmly in the water with a friend is adorable. But if you see that same sea otter grab hold of that friend’s tail, the scene shifts from adorable to oh my gosh they’re touching each other in just a few seconds.

That’s because male sea otters are not supposed to touch each other. Otters are solitary creatures, and males and females meet only briefly during the breeding season (oh, how romantic!).

But when it comes to holding hands, there is no “wrong”…and there is no mating.

They’re not even “holding hands” as we know it. Male sea otters clasp female sea otters with their paws — there’s no other way to touch another mammal without using your hands.

In this article, we will discuss sea otters holding hands and why they do it.

Do Sea Otters Really Hold Hands?

The answer is yes. Sea otters are known for several adorable behaviors, including floating on their backs and waving their paws.

Another thing that makes these animals so adorable is that they often hold hands while sleeping.

According to National Geographic, sea otters often sleep while holding onto each other, which helps keep them warm in cold waters.

But how exactly do they do this? Well, they don’t have hands. Instead, they wrap themselves around one another and then settle down for a nap.

A marine biologist named Tim Tinker told National Geographic that this behavior is called “social grooming,” where two animals take turns grooming each other’s fur or skin with their teeth or tongues.

In this case, the otters groom each other by biting off loose hair and parasites from each other’s bodies — which can sometimes make them bleed.

Why Do Sea Otters Hold Hands?

There are a lot of things that make sea otters adorable. They have furry coats and soft paws, and they swim around in cool kelp forests.

But one of the cutest things about them is their tendency to hold hands while they sleep, especially when they’re young.

There are a few reasons why sea otters do this.

They’re Helping Each Other Stay Afloat

Sea otters are strong swimmers, but they still need help from their friends sometimes.

When they fall asleep, it’s easy for them to drift away from one another and get separated from the rest of their colony if there aren’t enough adults around to help keep track of each pup.

Holding hands gives them more stability in the water and keeps them together during nap time.

They Want to Stay Warm

Sea otters don’t have any body fat and spend most of their time in cold water, so it can be hard to stay warm without help from their friends!

Holding hands like this helps them conserve heat because they’re huddling together on top of one another, which means there’s less surface area exposed to the air and, therefore, less heat loss per individual animal (if you’ve ever put your hand under someone.


Communicate through touch, vocalization, and scent marking (by urinating on rocks).

They use communication to groom one another during grooming sessions and establish dominance within the group by pushing other otters off platforms or taking their place on a rock perch if they’re not allowed there first.


Sea otters also use touch to play with one another by grabbing their flippers or tails while swimming together in their rafts or floating on their backs at the surface.

Do Sea Otters Fall Asleep Holding Hands?

Yes, sea otters most certainly do sometimes fall asleep holding hands. It’s incredibly cute!

Sea otters are the only marine mammals that have evolved a furry coat, which is thought to help them maintain their body temperature in cold water.

They also have a gripping tail that helps them climb on kelp and other floating vegetation to find food. Sea otters live along the Pacific coast from Japan to the Gulf of Alaska.

They eat clams and mollusks such as mussels and abalones, which they find by turning over rocks or diving to the ocean floor.

Sea otters can dive to depths of 130 feet and stay underwater for more than a minute while searching for food.

Sea otters spend most of their time in groups called rafts, but they may also spend some time alone.

A typical raft consists of one male and several females who form a family group with their pups from previous years (called “yearlings”).

The male sea otter protects his family from predators such as sharks by biting furiously at any threat.

Sea otters often carry clams or shellfish in their mouths when they come up for air after diving into the water because they don’t have hands as we do!

They often let go of these mollusks when they come up on land.

Do Sea Otters Like To Cuddle?

Sea otters are known for being adorable, but they’re also kind of weird. The marine mammals have been observed doing everything from holding hands to tickling each other’s bellies.

But can sea otters cuddle? The short answer is yes.

While some animals like to cuddle with their species and others prefer to keep their distance, sea otters enjoy both.

They’ve been seen huddling together in large groups for protection and sleeping head-to-tail with one another.

Sea otters’ social behavior is unique among mammals because they’re the only ones who regularly swim on their backs, which creates a need for strong bonds within the group.

They’ve been observed floating on their backs with their arms around friends or even strangers — in other words; they’re the only known cuddlers in the animal kingdom who aren’t human (so far)

More On Sea Otters Holding Hands

Sea otters are known for their playful antics and cuddly appearances. But did you know that these adorable creatures also hold hands as they float along? This touching behavior is called “holding paws.”

It’s not just an adorable gesture but also an important part of their communication.

Sea otters use holding paws to communicate with each other whether they’re playing or fighting (yes, the sea otter fight club is real).

In addition to being playful and affectionate, sea otters use holding paws to stay together while they’re sleeping or floating in the water.

They’ll wrap their forearms around each other’s necks and hold on tight with their hind flippers.

This protects them from predators who might want to snatch one of them away from its friend.

Watching this behavior is one of the best things about seeing sea otters in action — they are so cute that it’s hard not to smile when you see them doing something silly like holding paws.

Wrapping Up

Sea otters are typically solitary creatures and spend most of their time maintaining a territory and searching for food.

Even when the females have their pups, they will generally not tolerate parental units, and the pup must rely on itself if it is lost, with the occasional exception.

Why do sea otters who are sexually mature and have pups hold hands instead? It depends on what kind of otter you ask.

That is right; sea otters hold hands to maintain a mate during copulation. Their outwardly independent nature is just an illusion, and they are more social than previously believed.