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North American River Otters Sliding & Gliding

North American River Otters spend much of their time foraging.  They often have a circuit they travel along rivers and lakes which takes them up to a week or more to complete.  In between bodies of water, they travel overland on well-used paths, often during the day in winter.

These circuits are miles long, and for much of the time otters lope along in typical weasel fashion.  However, in winter the snow permits them to occasionally flop down on their bellies, tuck their front feet next to their chest and push off with their hind feet as they slide effortlessly on top of the snow, both down slopes as well as along flat surfaces.  Once they obtain a certain speed, they give their hind legs a rest and lift them off the ground so as not to slow them down as they slide (see photo).  Otters have been clocked up to 17 miles per hour running and sliding in this manner.

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6 responses

  1. Robyn Deveney

    How freakin’ cute is that?!? I’ll bet you were tickled to get that shot.

    January 20, 2020 at 8:13 am

    • You’re right about that, Robyn! Just wish I could have gotten a little closer, but it was great fun watching them, even at a distance!

      January 20, 2020 at 9:11 am

  2. Alice

    Awesome & wicked fun transportation mode.

    January 20, 2020 at 8:24 am

  3. kathiefive

    I love this, Mary!!

    January 20, 2020 at 9:27 am

  4. Edward Kerwin

    Some knowledge on bank beavers please. Thanks

    Sent from my iPhone


    January 20, 2020 at 5:28 pm

  5. Cordelia Merritt

    Hi Mary. I Loved this reminder of the otters sliding/gliding. Henry and I once spent a happy and memorable hour at the North Hartland Dam watching a pair sliding down the opposite bank, (I think on snow) then climbing back up to repeat the fun. I can still “see” them.

    Now, I have to tell you that the Greenbergs shared the shattering news of your plans. I can’t begin to tell you how sad they make me. You have become such a deeply ingrained part of my mental life – to say nothing of the life of the town – that I can’t imagine your not being a physical part of it as well. We will not say anything to anyone, of course, until you give the word. Much love Cordie


    January 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm

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