Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Watching Wildlife on our Walk

By Michelle Mather

Yesterday on our walk we noticed some activity on a pond ahead. Cam kept Morgan (the Wonder Dog) behind while I slowly walked ahead, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever it was before it heard me and disappeared.

We have often seen beavers and muskrats on this particular pond and so I was expecting that once I got close enough, the creature would be revealed as one of them but I was in for an even bigger treat! I soon realized that an otter was in the pond and it was busy!

from: www.elwhainfo.org/node/306

There was a thin layer of ice on the pond and I watched as the otter  repeatedly surfaced by breaking through the thin crust. Once its head was above water I could see that it had something it its mouth and it would chow down on whatever it was eating before once again slipping beneath the ice and the water. I could follow its path underwater by the bubbles that rose and were trapped by the thin ice. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a black sleek head would push up against the thin ice  and it would pop up once again, with something else in its mouth!

from: nationalzoo.si.edu/…/NorthAmerica/3.cfm

From time to time the otter would actually climb right out of the water on to the ice to enjoy its catch. Otters are carnivores and this one seemed to be having a feast of frogs and fish that it was finding in this pond. At times I felt like I was watching one of my cats…. the otter had the same lazy, playful exuberance as a cat toying with a mouse.

from: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/HabitatAndWildlife.html

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, but I’ve included some photos of river otters that I found online elsewhere.

Otters are really fascinating and beautiful creatures. In the time we’ve lived here in the woods we’ve managed to observe them fairly regularly and each time we come away from our experience with a renewed appreciation for the wildlife that we share these woods and ponds with!

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3 Comments

  1. Joan Massey

    Thanks for posting this, Michelle. It was a great way to start my day! I love otters – they are such fascinating fellows. Their funny antics and how they move – they almost look like joy with fur attached! They sure enjoy life, don’t they? They may be working to survive by gathering food, but they sure have a lot of fun doing it.
    How very wise of them…!
    Have a great day and I hope you enjoy your weekend.
    Joan

  2. hans honegger

    Hello Michelle
    Thanks for your calming walks.
    According to Ralph Vaness who once lived in your house, otters are often the cause of beaver dam collapse. Apparently they auger in at the dams to create exit holes in order to lower the water and create an air space. They then opperate within this zone under the ice until nothing is left to eat. They weaken the dams to a point where they occassionally let go.
    HH

    • aztextpress

      That’s fascinating Hans! I had no idea that otters were capable of causing beaver dam collapse! Amazing to think of beavers being capable of constructing such strong structures and amazing to think that all of that hard work can be ruined by an otter!

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