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Otter Holes

1-30-19 otter hole img_5596A pond can have one to two feet of ice on top of it, yet North American River Otters somehow manage to find a way to come up through the ice. How do they do this? Careful observation reveals that the ice where otter holes are found is thinner than most of the pond’s ice. Otters rely on spring-fed open water and areas of thin ice for surfacing holes. Here they break through the ice and often drag larger fish out onto the ice to eat them.

If otters are feeding in a beaver pond and they can’t find openings in the ice for fishing, they have been known to tunnel into beaver dams for access to open water. In late winter, water levels sometime drop below the ice, leaving an air space that lets otters swim and hunt beneath the ice without the need for holes. (Look closely at opening to see the actual hole beneath the surface water that they emerge from.)

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10 responses

  1. Janine Norton

    I love your posts!!!

    February 8, 2019 at 8:31 am

  2. Bill on the hill

    Great post Mary…Where there is a will, there is a way! Ingenious little buggers.
    To this day, I haven’t found any trace of otter nor fish remains around my pond after 84 rainbow trout mysteriously disappeared many years ago now. I have always suspected that otters were involved even though I have zero conclusive evidence!

    February 8, 2019 at 8:32 am

    • Alice Pratt

      How do you do a Rainbow Trout count? Roll call?

      February 8, 2019 at 9:28 am

  3. Deborah Luquer

    Thanks for second hole sighting and post…wow!

    February 8, 2019 at 8:39 am

  4. Terri Morgan

    Yes, I just saw it too. We have seen holes like this and otters on the river in NH!

    >

    February 8, 2019 at 8:42 am

  5. Ruth Gross

    Thanks Mary – I love the outdoor – and all life that surrounds us in that environment! In the middle of it all, “being still and know that I am God” , peace and tranquillity . Ruth Gross

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    February 8, 2019 at 8:57 am

  6. Alice Pratt

    Would be fun to see an otter!

    February 8, 2019 at 9:34 am

  7. Frances Howes

    That must give the Beavers a turn when an Otter boogies on through! Cheers and love, Pogo

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    February 8, 2019 at 9:41 am

  8. Dean Grover

    I saw such a hole on Moose Bog in the NEK last April. It looked just like your post, so mystery solved. Thanks.

    I have photos of this if of use to you, plus lots of Picture Plants (I believe) from the same ski travere, if useful to you.

    February 8, 2019 at 11:01 am

  9. How cool—I’ll have to check out any holes in the ice that I see!

    How about this wind? Brutal!!!

    XO. J On Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 8:10 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > > > > > > > Mary Holland posted: “A pond can have one to two feet of ice on top of it, > yet North American River Otters somehow manage to find a way to come up > through the ice. How do they do this? Careful observation reveals that the > ice where otter holes are found is thinner than most ” > > > >

    February 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm

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