Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Otter be in Pictures!

This edition of "Off the Beaten Path," is very much ON the beaten path for a change!  It features one of our Outdoor Trail's most beloved and popular animals, the river otters.  We have two otters:  our female was acquired as an adult in 2003, our male was born in 2005.

One of the advantages of working here is that I can visit the animals often and observe their behavior.  (Sometimes visitors are perplexed when they find the otters curled up taking a bit of a "siesta," especially during the hot summer months....Otters are supposed to be "playful," right?  Well, yes, they are--just not 24/7!)

Anyway, otters are tremendously well-adapted for an aquatic life style.  With their streamlined body, webbed feet and long rudder-like tail, otters are virtual acrobats when swimming. 

Their dense oily fur looks plush when dry:

Compared to what they look like fresh out from a dunk in their pond:

Otters are carnivores that eat mainly fish, but will also eat crayfish, crabs, amphibians, turtles, and even insects.  Check out his teeth--definitely "carnivore" teeth (in case you're curious, I snapped this photo as he was yawning!): 

They do spend some time grooming their fur, which is always fun to watch:

Well, its nap time for the otters... So, that's all for now!  More off the beaten path in two weeks.  Oh, by the way, my friend Jody Ullmann found a great Otter Spotter website that has lots of great info about all kinds of otters--enjoy! 

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