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River Otter Brown-out


River Otters have latrines on land where they come to defecate, urinate and roll around, all in the same area. This area is used over and over and is referred to as roll or brown-out. The latter name is derived from the fact that much of the vegetation dies as a result of the urine and acid build-up. Most otter scat (also referred to as spraint) disintegrates fast and consists of piles of fish scales, with little form. However, if you come upon a recently-visited brown-out, or if the otter has consumed prey other than fish, such as crayfish, tubular scat can be present (see photo insert). Look for River Otter brown-outs on narrow strips of land that stick out into ponds, or a strip of land between two bodies of water. (Thanks to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center for rolling otter photo op.)

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3 responses

  1. Cheron barton

    Not around here??!!

    Sent from my iPhone


    December 2, 2016 at 8:56 am

  2. Laurie Spry

    Thanks, Mary! I have seen these by our beaver dam and thought they were left by beaver. Cool; I occasionally but rarely see otter; good to know there’s still around.

    December 2, 2016 at 9:54 am

  3. Michele Girard

    Thanks, Mary. I think I’ve seen these before and wondered whether they were “slides” in and out of the water. Now I will look again with a keener eye as I walk near waterbodies, armed with this new information.

    December 3, 2016 at 8:20 am

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