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North American River Otters Foraging For Fish

11-30-18 otter with fish_U1A2403

Whether or not North American River Otters made the original holes evident in Wednesday’s Mystery Photo, they were responsible for keeping them open by frequently poking their heads up through them for some air. Congratulations to Noel K. for being the first to correctly identify their surface holes.  This was a tricky Mystery Photo, as there were none of the usual signs of otter activity (tracks, fish remains, etc.) on the ice surrounding the holes.  This is probably because the ice was too thin to support the weight of an otter.  To find the most humorous response, scroll down on Wednesday’s Mystery Photo comments until you get to Peg Emerson’s.

These semiaquatic members of the weasel family are active year-round and while they are mainly nocturnal and crepuscular during the summer, they are frequently spotted during the day in winter.  If otters encounter open water, they rarely resist the urge to enter it and pursue resident fish.

Thanks to their webbed feet and streamlined body, otters are accomplished swimmers and divers. They are able to reach a depth of around five feet and remain submerged for up to four minutes as they hunt underwater. Top swimming speed is seven miles per hour. (They can achieve a speed of up to 18 miles per hour when running and sliding on snow or ice.)  While fish are their mainstay, these carnivores also consume frogs, snakes, turtles, insects, birds and bird eggs and the occasional mammal (mainly muskrat).  Though called “river” otters, they forage in fresh, salt and brackish waters. (Thanks to Rita and Dave Boynton for photo op.)

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5 responses

  1. Barry Avery

    My local lake was frozen, then thawed and we saw the Otter Family last week. Now its frozen again. Manitook Lake, Granby, CT

    December 7, 2018 at 8:47 am

  2. Gina

    I found sliding tracks of an otter a few weeks ago. Sent them to my family as mystery photos. It was fun to see the answers they came up with. (o:
    Thank you.

    December 7, 2018 at 10:14 am

  3. Reuben

    Great photo! We watch otters in the Androscoggin River, behind our house. They dive in, grab a fish and often come up on the ice to feed. One day we had one come up the snow covered river bank and run along our backyard before heading back to the water. Between the size, shape, long tail and high back end, I figured that it was an otter.

    December 7, 2018 at 12:49 pm

  4. Alice Pratt

    Would love to see one!

    December 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm

  5. Su

    I thought it was a trick question and was really an asphalt road in winter with pot holes

    December 7, 2018 at 1:58 pm

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