An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

North American River Otters Running & Gliding

2-24-16 otter slide 142One hundred years ago, naturalists were puzzled by the disappearance of otters in the winter. Some people theorized that they must be hibernating, but in fact, otters are active throughout the year — they just aren’t observed as often in the winter as in the summer. Because they inhabit water, where the fish that they eat are found, and often reside in bank dens (above water level), otters can spend most of their winter under cover of ice. However, some do travel over land from open water to open water, upon occasion. In fact, it is not unusual for them to cover several miles in their search for an open stream or a spring. Run and glide, run and glide, often along a frozen river or marsh, but also through the woods, where otter tracks seem so incongruous. Paired foot prints stop and start each slide; this combination is a dead giveaway as to who is making grooves in the snow. Ultimately, if you persevere when following them, you will find that these slides disappear into open water.

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4 responses

  1. Have had otters here at our pond 3 times…got to watch them slide down the snow…it looked like a lot of fun

    February 23, 2016 at 8:20 am

  2. Brenda M

    Mary, this is so interesting! I have had the privilege of watching river otters run and slide in Summer, and it is a positively delightful sight to behold. I love that you capture the pictures to illustrate your text. Thank you!

    February 23, 2016 at 8:29 am

  3. Otters have been pretty secretive in and around the Great Meadows NWR here in Concord. Only in the last few years have their winter tracks given me a clue that they’ve been hanging out both within the impoundments and along the river shoreline with regularity, when nobody’s looking.

    February 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

  4. Otters are so playful!

    February 23, 2016 at 3:05 pm

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