Friday, November 14, 2014

River Otter 2

The first time I learned river otters were indigenous to this area was on a little exploration I took on a local creek. Sand bars in the creek revealed a lot of activity of raccoons, but I was also seeing another foot print I didn't recognize.

I took some pictures so I could do some further investigation after I got home. I have a guide on mammals which shows animal track patterns and I looked at these and decided the only set that was at all close were those of a river otter.

Since the creek was such a small branch being no more than a few feet across most of the time, I doubted a river otter would have any interest in being there. So, I wrote an email to the local state natural resources office and attached the photo of the tracks, asking them if they knew what type of animal it might be.

One of the DNR officers wrote back saying it was indeed river otter tracks. He said they take day trips up feeder creeks foraging for food. This secondary creek was quite a hike from the main river and would probably take an otter the better part of a day to reach. Not having seen any small fish or crayfish or anything of that nature, I had my doubts. Plus, on several trips to the same creek at different times, I always saw numerous otter tracks which made me think they were present most of the time.

It made me wonder if perhaps the otter was actually living in the area. When I spotted this entrance to a den several yards above the creek, I wondered if it was possible the otter had dug it out.

Arrows point to the elvers which are a little difficult to see

It was on a later hike along the creek I discovered there was a source of food an otter might be interested in. I came across elvers (an early stage of the American Eel) in the creek. You had to look carefully to even see them since they were rather secretive, hiding in the shadows of stones in the creek. I'm sure they would be a food source a river otter would be interested in and fairly easy to catch in the limited confines of the creek.

Despite all the evidence, I never did actually see an otter in that creek, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment