do hawks eat otters

Do Hawks Eat Otters? (Species, Eating Habits, + More)

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Otters are mammals that can be found in many different parts of the world, and they have many predators. That said, there are many bird varieties, such as hawks, that are mainly carnivorous and hunt other animals. So, you may be wondering: do hawks eat otters?

Well, let’s first discuss the dietary habits of hawks, which will help us determine the likelihood of these birds preying on otters. If you’d like to find out, keep reading!

What Do Hawks Eat?

Hawks, by nature, are opportunistic feeders that will eat whatever they can catch, and otters are no exception.

However, these little mammals aren’t necessarily a go-to dinner for hawks. Indeed, environmental factors, such as the availability of easier prey, will largely influence whether a hawk will pursue an otter. 

Overall, a hawk is most likely to feast on an otter if they are currently inhabiting an environment where these animals often reside, but if a smaller and more attainable animal is nearby, hawks will likely go after the easier prey.

Which Hawks Are Likely to Prey on Otters?

Now that we’ve established the probability of a hawk eating an otter, it’s time to narrow it down a bit. While any hawk variety may pursue an otter for their dinner if prompted, the below varieties are the likeliest culprits:

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s hawks are one of the most common North American varieties that eat otters, as they are known to prey on small mammals. So, if you see Cooper’s hawks in your area, then there is a good chance that they have eaten an otter at some point.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

The northern goshawk is a type of hawk that is found in Europe, Asia, and North America and has been known to eat otters.

However, birders should practice caution when observing a northern goshawk during feeding; they can be aggressive and have been known to attack humans.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawks are found in North America and are known to eat a variety of animals, including otters.

Red-tailed hawks hunt during the day and use their sharp talons to kill their prey. In addition to small animals, they are also known to eat reptiles, fish, and amphibians.

Harris’ Hawk

Harris’s Hawk

Harris’ hawks are found in North and South America. These hawks are known to eat small mammals, including otters. However, our readers should note that this type of hawk is known to be aggressive to humans, and also hunts in groups. So, practice caution when observing this variety’s behavior.

Which Otter Species Do Hawks Eat?

As we’ve established, hawks that live in areas where otters are found are likely to hunt them. For instance, if there is a river near a hawk’s nest, then the hawk may hunt for otters that populate the water space.

Hawks that live in forests or mountains are less likely to encounter otters and, as a result, are less likely to eat them. However, there are several types of otters. So, which varieties are hawks most likely to eat? Let’s examine the list below:

North American River Otter

North American River Otter

The North American river otter is the most common type of otter in North America. These otters are found in rivers, streams, and lakes, and are also known to inhabit coastal areas.

South American River Otter

This type of otter is found in South America, known to inhabit coastal areas. South American river otters are a type of mammal and part of the weasel family.

Eurasian River Otter

Eurasian River otters are found in Europe and Asia and are also known to inhabit coastal areas. Eurasian river otters are endangered species and they are protected by law in some countries and regions.

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

These are the largest type of otters and are found in the Pacific Ocean. Sea otters are known to eat a variety of animals, including crabs, fish, and shellfish. Also, sea otters are known to eat seagrass.

Giant Otter

Giants are the largest type of otter and are found in South America. Giant otters can grow to be up to six feet long. These otters are known to eat many different animals, including fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

Do Hawks Eat Baby Otters?

In addition to full-grown otters, hawks will eat baby otters, also known as pups. Pups are born blind and cannot swim, so they rely on their mother for food and protection, which likely makes them more desirable prey for hawks due to their lack of self-protection. 

Do Hawks Eat Dead Otters?

Hawks prefer live prey, but they are also scavengers when convenient. Therefore, a hawk will definitely eat a dead otter if it comes across it. At the end of the day, hawks are opportunistic feeders that will eat whatever they can find.


Overall, many hawk varieties have been known to feast on otters, but not all hawks. Rather, some may prefer certain types of birds, fish, or other animals. That said, hawks that live in areas or cities where otters are found are more probable to hunt them. Also, hawks are known to eat baby otters’ pups and dead otters. 

So, the next time you’re observing a hawk out in the wild, you just might see one go after an otter for its dinner!

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