Article, photos and videos by Annette Bays
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!