We have a large pond in front of our house with a floating dock in the middle. The dock is often used by a variety of birds and ducks, but we were very surprised, the other day, to find it being used as a sunning spot for a family of River Otters.
Otters are well known for their playful habits, and these ones definitely lived up to that reputation. For an hour we enjoyed watching them role around, play together, groom themselves and each other, and sleep. They went in and out of the water and did a little fishing. Apparently they eat mainly fish, frogs, crayfish and bugs.
I found out that River Otters can grow to be almost 4 feet long and weigh up to 30 pounds. Their tails make up about a third of their length and are very muscular and tapered. They have webbed toes, and small ears that can be closed underwater, which is where they spend the majority of their time.
Otters are generally considered nocturnal, but are often active during the day as well. They build a den in banks of rivers and streams (sometimes using an abandoned beaver or muskrat burrow), and generally have 2 to 4 cubs who stay with the parents for about a year. The family that visited us had two cubs. Watching them interact, it was quite obvious to see which were the yearlings.
It really was a thrilling experience to spend an hour watching these adorable and playful creatures. Their movements both in and out of the water are very unique and serpentine. They make swimming look so easy! We hope they decide to use our pond as a regular rest spot from now on!
Message from the Editor: Enjoy the images and video footage courtesy of Annette Bays. Our readers are in for a treat with this video!
Featured here are some of the wild animals in our care at Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre during the month of May 2023.
Waldo our beautiful big toad has gone home. His finder even bought him a cute little toad house in which to shelter. Waldo, you have it made. Live happy and free.
Wasaga Beach fox will be going outside soon on his final stages of rehabilitation. The enclosure has been undergoing some new changes to make it better for our animals who go out there. Almost ready for the fox. He will get acclimatized and then he’ll be homeward bound. He will be free again soon.
Our momma raccoon with the two babies is outside now. Mom and babes are doing well.
Another momma raccoon and her four babes who were rescued from a construction site are doing well. The babies are growing big and strong and very cute. They hang close to mom who has been incredible raising her wee ones. In this picture, two are hiding. 🙂
This baby chipmunk was found with a broken leg in Chatsworth and came to Procyon Wildlife since at the time, no other rehab could take the little guy. He is certainly feisty. He is a little live wire at feeding time. His cast is changed twice a week as he is growing so quickly. It is rewarding to see how well he is doing.
All except for one bat have been released with plans for the last one to go home in a couple of weeks.
These baby cottontails arrived on the Saturday of the Victoria Day long weekend. They were found by a couple out for a walk. They spotted a closed small box off the path and felt compelled to open it. Inside, there were five bunnies only days old, but only three of them were alive. The three survivors are doing well and their eyes are starting to open. Lucky little babies.
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We all need to relax and melt away the day-to-day stresses. Our wildlife can help alleviate tension and anxiety. In fact, watching them can provide the best stress relief in the world. My backyard is certified by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Certification requires the area to have water to drink and in which to bathe, and shelter such as a brush pile. The designated area should also have natural sources of food, and flowering native plants for bees, birds, and butterflies.
Wherever you live, I highly recommend creating your own little sanctuary of peace. Every morning I sit by one of my three ponds, coffee in hand and read a book. The fish join me for breakfast, swimming so peacefully while the hummingbirds sip sweet nectar from their feeder and seasonal blooming flowers. Butterflies and bees, chipmunks, squirrels, birds also make an appearance. Each day, momma robin comes to the birdbath or pond to bathe while the orioles enjoy their bird jelly and fresh oranges.
During spring migration, the pond area is filled with beautiful, assorted warblers. So colourful and so calming. They feed on insects from inside the newly opening leaves, and of course the pond is a huge attractant for drinks and baths. Much needed revival for that long journey home. The reward for me is getting a bird’s eye view of everyone. The best relaxation in the world to replenish one’s soul.
At night, our pond is alive with life which I view on my trail camera. Opossum, skunk, mink and raccoon. Even a porcupine came to visit once. Our fishpond is netted to protect the fish. But all are welcome in the other ponds to play and drink, have fun.
Momma raccoons relax while babies play and cool off on a hot summer’s eve. Presently, we have a mom raising her little ones in our garage attic right now. She is a sweetheart and is causing no issues. She can stay and finish her family raising with us.
So, get out there and make a special space in your garden. Write a journal of your daily wonderful encounters with wildlife of all shapes and sizes. It makes for good reading on a cold winter’s day. After observing the orphaned and injured wildlife at the Centre, it is wonderful to see and be amongst all the life in my garden. Watching babies grow and listening to the beautiful sounds. Blending in with all my wildlife friends as they have learned to accept me into their space. A space I treasure. Water is healing, it is life. Who knows what you will attract? My camera has even picked up a little mouse. He is outside, his home. And boy is he or she busy. And ever so cute!
Open your eyes, put your phone down, get a good book, although you may not get much reading done, and relax with mother nature. You will be rewarded and at peace. And all the day’s stresses will just melt away.