As you may be aware, 2019 was a landmark year in emojis. The year the otter emoji was released. The otter was approved in March of 2019 in Unicode 12.0 and added in Emoji 12.0. Access to this emoji will depend on your platform, but it has seen a slow, but steady, release.
Many platforms use different emojis, and I am here to rate each of them, so you know which platform to exclusively use, as the otter emoji is essential to all communication.
Thanks to Emojipedia for the information on this new emoji.
Species: Sea otter. A valid choice. Iconic otter and probably the most referenced for cuteness due to hand-holding and baby-fluffing shenanigans.
Accuracy: 9/10. They capture the fluffy fur, the color differential common in mature sea otters between the head and the body, and importantly, the ears. It’s even holding a rock (or maybe a shell fish). The shading toes the line on being too realistic, but on a smaller scale, it works. The head is a bit big, but this is an artistic liberty.
Cuteness: 6.5/10. It’s kinda cute, but lacks a bit of personality. It’s just staring at the camera while lying in the water. The eyes feel a bit dead.
Otter spirit: 7.5/10. You may think of sea otters floating about, but they’re quite active. It’s not inaccurate to depict one so posed, but it doesn’t quite capture the fun of the otter.
Total: 7.7/10. Overall, a good entry into the emoji library.
Species: Eurasian river otter. At first I almost labeled this cute friend as an Asian small-clawed, but the fur’s almost reddish tone tells me it is more likely the Eurasian species. Eurasian river otters, or Lutra Lutra, are the otterest of otters. Very solid choice for an emoji. Cute but not too niche. Well, not niche at all.
Accuracy: 8/10. They give this friend enough detail to determine the species, but stay a bit more toony with the details. Decent scaling between head an body.
Cuteness: 10/10. Oh boy, this otter is up to something. I don’t know what it is, but I am delighted.
Otter spirit: 9.5/10. The Mischief Energy of this emoji is amazing. The mix of swimming posture with land-bound scheming hands is an interesting choice and makes this otter feel very otterly.
Total: 9.2/10. Extremely high quality otter friend.
Species: Sea otter. The posture and rock are dead giveaways.
Accuracy: 6/10. Nothing about this is quite wrong, but it’s a very low-fi style of emoji. I’ll give them points for the ears being vaguely correct and giving the otter friend a rock.
Cuteness: 3/10. I’m just not feeling this. I can go for this kind of color-blocking for style, but the huge outline feels oppressive and cuts out most of that adorability. Actually, if you click on the image and it is placed on a black background, the emoji improves quite a bit. I’d give it a 7 without that weird outline.
Otter spirit: 5/10. Again, without the outline, it feels better. I feel the otterness trying to escape that outline.
Total: 4.7/10. I can see the cute minimalist otter in here being weighed down by insane outlines.
Species: Asian small-clawed otter. I’m a bit torn on this one. Just based on scale, I’m leaning toward the Asian small-clawed otter, though it could easily be a slightly chibi North American river otter. The smallest and arguably cutest otter, Asian small-clawed otters are quite popular these days, having gotten a lot of exposure from cute videos of them eating or playing with humans. They also make excellent secretaries, as depicted above.
Accuracy: 9.5/10. The scaling of the tail and head is a bit off, even for an Asian small-clawed otter, but this captures the coloring and ears quite well.
Cuteness: 8.5/10. This is a pretty cute otter. The posing beats out the Apple otter, since looking into the distance is a bit cuter of a look, and there’a hint of a smile there as well.
Otter spirit: 8.5/10. This pose, especially the arms, is pretty otterly. I can imagine this friend hiding a favorite rock in one of its armpits right there. The slight smile doesn’t give off quite as much mischief as I’d like, but it’s got something planned.
Total: 8.8/10. A good friend with a bit of mischief on his mind.
Species: Sea otter. Again, high quality otter choice.
Accuracy: 9.5/10. Whoah, this looks like it’s been painted. Incredible detail. Excellent posture. The only ding I have for it is the oddly short tail.
Cuteness: 9/10. Just look at that face. The eyes are so friggin cute. I want to hug this otter.
Otter spirit: 8.5/10. This is pretty clearly a young otter, so I’ll allow it a bit of posing. It really captures the spirit of what we’d like sea otters to be (adorable floof friends, just chillin in the water, being cute) but not quite what they are (mischievous weirdo floof friends, playing about constantly and getting into trouble).
Total: 9/10. The soft-hearted otter-lover’s otter.
Species: Unknown. This is a very tough one, as many river otter species share attributes, but this one in particular I can’t call. The posture is very sea otterly, but the coloring is and body shape is a bit more river otterly.
Accuracy: 6.5/10. This is a really simplified otter. It’s got the right parts. The ears and tail are represented, but it’s very minimalist.
Cuteness: 7.5/10. You know, I didn’t initially find this one very appealing, but the more I look at it, the better it gets. It’s simple in its style, but it’s pretty cute. The overhead angle is kind of working for me.
Otter spirit: 8/10. I can sense a bit of mischief in that face. It says “I’m gonna eat some snacks.” I dig it. Plus it’s probably gonna do a sweet belly drum in a second.
Total: 7.3/10. A simple friend, but a good one. Who knows what kind of otter, though.
Species: Sea otter. A cute one at that.
Accuracy: 9/10. The artistic liberties of the posture cut back a bit, but this is a very good looking otter. The shading and fur coloring looks great.
Cuteness: 9/10. Ooh what a friend. Cute and fluffy with a bit o mischief in its eyes. Plus it’s in belly-drum position!
Otter spirit: 9.5/10. The softness and mischief all in one. I can’t say for certain that this otter has a clam shell hidden away in its fur pocket to later scrape against the walls and taunt the otter keepers, but I’m pretty sure.
Total: 9.2/10. An excellent friend.
Species: North American river otter. I almost said Asian small-clawed otter simply by the scale of the head and tail, but the face is so wide, I kind of have to guess NA river otter. North American river otter is quality otter, with a slightly broader face than their Eurasian cousins. This is a very frequently seen wild otter in parts of Canada and the US, so it is iconic in its own way.
Accuracy: 7/10. It’s leaning pretty toony, but without the outlines of the Google otter. The head proportions are almost weaselly, which is still a mustelid, but not quite right.
Cuteness: 8/10. A cute friend. The wider face does make for a pretty adorable eye catch, even if it feels less accurate.
Otter spirit: 7/10. The scale is really throwing me. I love the scheming hands, but with the shape of the body, it’s almost a weasel scheme this otter’s hatching.
Total: 7.3/10. Cute and sinister otter (or possibly weasel) friend
Species: What? I’m guessing they’re going for sea otter? It’s pretty clearly a bear with a beaver tail.
Accuracy: 2/10. It’s got 4 limbs and a tail. The tail’s all wrong and the ears are bear ears. What is happening here?
Cuteness: 4/10. It’s a cute bear, I guess.
Otter spirit: 3/10. That posture would be frankly devastatingly otterly if it looked anything like an otter. It’s the classic “rubbin mah cheeks” pose that’s so popular these days with otter models.
Total: 3/10. Who made this?
Species: Asian small-clawed otter.
Accuracy: 9/10. It’s pretty accurate with some artistic liberties taken. The ears are a smidgen too big and the scaling’s played with, but it’s certainly well-shaded.
Cuteness: 6/10. The body is very cute. A good swimming pose for an Asian small-clawed otter. The hands are appropriately scheming, but the face… It’s just off. Staring at the camera is a hard look to pull off, and this one feels especially odd.
Otter spirit: 5/10. The face is ruining it for me. It’s stiff and lacks any kind of scheme at all. The body is quite otterly, though, so I give points there.
Total: 6.7/10. Your slightly-off otter friend. It’ll do in a pinch.
An interesting aspect of this emoji is that the species of otter is not decided in the description. Several of these platform have chosen to ignore parts of the description, but all of them decided to place the otter on its back, with most having the head placed on the left. Some of them chose to be more realistic, and chose a specific type of otter, while others chose to be more artistic, or generic, or just plain incorrect.
Which platform has the best otter emoji, you ask? I will leave that up to you to truly decide for yourself, but Google’s and Facebook’s otters have my heart in their hands. Comment below your thoughts on these beautiful, playful, mischievous mustelids, as well as which emotion you feel an otter emoji conveys. 🦦 to you. 🦦 to us all.