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River Otter Scat

Because fish make up a large part of their diet, North American River Otters live along streams, lakes and wetlands.  Although crayfish, hibernating frogs and turtles, insects and other aquatic invertebrates are also consumed in the winter, the telltale identifying feature of otter scat (spraint) this time of year is the presence of fish scales.

Look for otter scat on raised areas near water, especially the shortest distance between two water bodies or on peninsulas.  It is usually found on the ground, but occasionally on logs and at the intersection of two streams. Otters frequently form large latrines of multiple scats.

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4 responses

  1. David Fedor-Cunningham

    I once found a small depression dug in the mud on the edge of the Hubbardton River with urine in it, might that have been otter?

    January 10, 2020 at 10:43 am

    • I honestly don’t know, David. I’ve never heard of that specific habit — where they have a latrine otters’ urine can kill and blacken vegetation but the only animal I’m familiar with that urinates in a shallow depression that they dig is a moose (wallow).

      January 10, 2020 at 3:27 pm

  2. In the summer I have seen clusters of butterflies, red-spotted purples and white admirals together with green bottle flies feeding right near a lake on scat with scales that looks a lot like this – probably from river otters! Thanks Mary!
    Craig

    January 10, 2020 at 11:11 am

  3. Alice

    Looks like something I would NOT like to step in.

    January 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

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