An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

North American River Otter Roll

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In addition to their winter slides in the snow, river otters leave distinctive signs year round.  Their scat is unlike most other animal scat in that it has little form and often disintegrates into a pile of fish scales.  Sometimes river otters create what are called “rolls” —  areas near water that they repeatedly visit to defecate, urinate and roll around on the ground.  If used frequently enough, rolls become so acidic that they turn black with dying vegetation.  Being a member of the Weasel family, otters possess oil glands and waterproof their fur with oil. It’s possible that in addition to marking territory at a roll, they are distributing this oil throughout their coat when they are rolling on the ground.

2 responses

  1. Elizabeth

    Cool! I will now be on the lookout for a “roll” in otter territory. The challenge will be getting to it before my dogs do some rolling in it themselves.

    October 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm

  2. You made me laugh, as the reason I stumbled upon the roll was because my lab, Emma, was rolling on otter scat!

    October 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm

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