Shy and mainly nocturnal, though coastal otters can be seen during the day. Single spraint and rolling on dry sand in scat station was observed in a bank angle of 100- 450. Read more: The Secret Lives of River Otters (And Their Parasites), Continue Otter spraint counts and densities of the upper areas of Nakdong River basin slightly decreased between 2014 and 2016, while those in the lower left areas remained high, and in the lower right areas increased. They can stay underwater for up to four minutes. This means that even in warm water, aquatic mammals lose heat quickly. However, river otters—particularly families containing young pups in spring—occasionally cause severe problems in fish hatcheries and private ponds. Spraints or droppings on a board walk. Otter spraint on stone at water's edge. River otter feces, commonly referred to as spraint by otter researchers, is enormously important in otter communication. This is a video taken on March 7, 2020 It's getting warmer and easier to swim. If her body fat is high enough when she retreats to her den, the eggs implant. By counting the rings on the fish’s scales and ear bones, scientists can learn the age of fish that the otters eat. When an otter eats a fish, it often swallows the tag, then excretes it in its spraint. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Is it a spraint? The higher metabolic rate means that the river otters must take in more calories, which is why they are regularly eating. Dung is used by many animals to mark their territory. These are their social hubs, like going to the drive-in or mall. Spraints are typically identified by smell and are known for their distinct aromas, the smell of which has been described as ranging from freshly mown hay to putrefied fish. River otter were listed as endangered by the state of Illinois in 1989, with relict populations occurring in northwestern Illinois and extreme southern Illinois (Anderson 1995).The state recovery team, formed in 1993, developed a reintroduction program (Bluett et al. Tracks/footprints: Otter prints can be found at the edge of river banks, in gravel, sand, and mud, and on tarmac if they have just left the river. They are found throughout most of North America – from the Rio Grande in Northern Mexico to Canada and Alaska. The face is broad, and the eyes protrude slightly. They have dense short underfur, which is covered by darker, coarse hairs that help to repel water. These otters have muscular and streamlined bodies, short legs, and webbed feet with non-retractable claws. Tweet; Description: Spraint, or scat of an otter is full of fish scales, and has the distinct smell of fish. Let’s take a closer look. They live in riparian zones, which are the areas that border stream, rivers, and lakes. 1999) and released 346 river otter from 1994 to 1996 in central Illinois (Fig. Natal holts, where a female otter gives birth and raises her cubs for the first three months, are normally found in secretive places often a long distance from the sea. Several groups have been set up to try to help conserve natural populations. They will charge and scratch other otters who get too close. They mark their territory by urinating, defecating, scratching, and rubbing their scent glands on rocks and trees. Scientific name: Lutra canadensis ; Weight: 11-30 lbs. Its eyes are even adapted for underwater vision, leaving them nearsighted when out of water. If the animals they are eating are filled with parasites, then the otters can become infected too. Otter spraint on rock. River Otter Quick facts. Otter spraint absent sites were mostly located in the middle and lower areas of the main Nakdong River and its tributaries. They have scent glands at the base of their tail, and they deposit their musky scent on their dung, which is called spraint. Why look at their poo? Otter fur is a rich, dark brown and is lighter on the … On land, otters rely on their sense of smell, hearing and touch to get around. River otters live alone or in pairs. River otters also leave “anal jelly.” We're not talking about the store-bought jelly in glass jars found in grocery stores; we're talking stinky goo from inside of the otter. An otter is muscular, streamlined and solidly built. Otter Spraint! Ewwww! River Otter Spraint. After two months, the pups learn to swim. This provides an idea about the types, ages and size of fish in the local area. v) investigate American mink predation of water vole. Ecological and behavioral constraints may affect the genders differently, however, because of dissimilarity in reproductive strategies (Bleich et al., 1997). The female is responsible for rearing the pups. Olfactory preference tests were … Biologydictionary.net Editors. Tracks are usually at least 2cm wide (wider than your thumbprint). ... Spraint Sites. i) identify otter diet and seasonality. Poop can tell us about the health of river otters and their land and water homes too. The main sign of the presence of an otter is the spraint that it left for the otters to find and decipher. Lontra canadensis. Bobcats, alligators, coyotes, raptors, and other large predators. Avoidance of predators and successful acquisition of food have been proposed as two main hypotheses for formation of social groups (Alexander, 1974; Gittleman, 1989; Wrangham and Rubenstein, 1986). When an otter eats a fish, it often swallows the tag, then excretes it in its spraint. 2, 7, 8, 10–12 The methods for spraint identification have normally been used to identify the species of fish in otters' diet; the identification of bird feathers has previously only been undertaken to family level. North American river otters tend to live alone or in pairs. They have small heads, with long necks and shoulders. River otter scat found on top of a rock at the water's edge. As seen in the photos, this is what otter poo looks like. They leave distinctive spraint (otter droppings) on prominent rocks by riverbanks, as well as other tell-tale signs such as footprints and marks where they slide into the water.' Staying safe next to the river Otters have very good sense of sight, smell and hearing, so you need to be quiet and stay out of sight and downwind of them. Future work (subject to further funding) We hope to continue this work to develop and improve methods for studying otter numbers and distribution. “River Otter.” Biology Dictionary. Otter (Lutra lutra). Bears, for instance, will breed in the late spring or early summer. Otter (River Don) 23rd August 2016: Fish (3) Bird (1) Fish: Bullhead (Cottidae), Minnow (Cyprinidae), Brown trout (Salmonidae), Bird: Moorhen. Otters produce small amounts of spraint several times a day, depositing it in conspicuous designated areas and spraying it with scent." Don’t be too grossed out—these jelly-filled blobs can be useful. Right: River otter anal jelly is also found in latrines. River Brit, Dorset, UK April 2012. The otters deposit their spraint evenly throughout an otter’s range. It prefers to dine on fish, but also eats crayfish, and occasionally small mammals and birds. It has a jelly-like consistency and is thought to be the shedding of the otter’s intestinal lining, along with some undigested bits of food, and anal secretions to add a personal fragrance (eau de otter). The aquatic mammals have several biological adaptations that have enabled them to inhabit several environments successfully. To examine the status of otter populations, we monitored spraint densities at 250 ~ 355 sites annually from 2014 to 2017 in the Nakdong River basin. River otters are prey for bobcats, alligators, coyotes, raptors, and other large predators. Their ears and nose close when they go underwater. We observed predation by river otters (Lontra canadensis) on large numbers of Florida cooter (Pseudemys floridana) and Florida softshell turtles (Apalone ferox) in two small lakes in North Central Florida, USA during a period of unusually low water levels.Carcasses were strewn on the shoreline and accumulated around floating boat docks, where some residents observed turtles being killed. Although they are able to reproduce annually, it is more likely for this species to give birth every two years. Latrines offer river otters a stinky “phone a friend” with their neighbors. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. 1999). Spraint is a visual and olfactory indicator of an otter's presence. Otter spraint is the dung of otters and is often described as having a sweet jasmine aroma. Jessica has been lucky enough to observe otters at a river by her home in Dorset, using camera traps to record their behaviour. comm.). Otters also den under houses, decks, and other structures near water, … River otters are found in a variety of habitats that range from temperate to very cold. Otters spend a lot of time exploring the spraint of others. They say it is the first time in 25 years that otter "spraint", or faeces, have been found in the River Sowe at Baginton. We tested several alternative hypotheses about the function of scent marking by the North American river otter, Lontra canadensis. They hunt either alone or in pairs. Male hippos even use their tail to distribute their excrement as a kind of muck-spreader! Due to their webbed feet and muscular tails, it comes as no surprise that river otters are excellent swimmers. Spraints: In other words, otter droppings. So, what can scientists learn from collecting and studying river otters’ poop? Normally, this species is 57 to 95 cm (22.5 to 37.5 in) long, not counting a tail of 35–45 cm (14–17.5 in). The… Each otter’s scent is as unique as a fingerprint and can tell other otters information such as the identity, age, sex, and breeding condition of the otter that left it. CPW has successfully reintroduced river otters to the Western Slope. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, River Otters Take Party Pooping To A New Level, The Secret Lives of River Otters (And Their Parasites), Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman, The State of American Craft Has Never Been Stronger. 1; Bluett et al. Otters are notoriously difficult to keep tabs on, but our teams are involved in intensive efforts to learn more about their populations. If spraint is found, then the 10 km grid square is marked as positive but this cannot give any idea of actual otter numbers—it simply confirms that an otter has passed that way [1, 2]. You can normally see the remains of fish scales and bones within the spraint, often deposited on boulders or rocks in and by the river. The European River Otter shares similar sleeping habits, spending most of the day sleeping in undergrowth or the holes which are their dens. Also found along the west coast of Scotland. Sometimes, it appears yellowish. River otters have brown or grey fur on top with a lighter underside. But for some animals, pooping is a social event. River Otters can be either diurnal or nocturnal, though most species are more active at night. Otters spraint upto 20 times per day (Andrew Crawford pers. They generally forage in the water, but they can also hunt on land. The North American River Otter, for instance, is nocturnal three seasons and more diurnal only in the winter. Note: The report on ratter Phil Bastey added an extra digit in his phone number. Length: 35 - 50 inches; Habitat: riparian - living or located near a … And search more of iStock's library of royalty-free stock images that features Animal Dung photos available for quick and easy download. Instead, the cubs or pups are usually born the following March after a gestation period of around 60 days. River Otter Spraint. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). I broke one of them up and it contained small bones and what looked like fish scales which would fit. The correct number is 07932 943344. To keep things tidy, humans have developed special rooms and solitary rituals for pooping. • River otter feces, commonly referred to as spraint by otter researchers, is enormously important in otter communication. A place where there are multiple spraints is called a latrine. Nevertheless, studies indicate that the bulk of the river otter’s diet consists of non-game fish species. Project Noah is a tool that nature lovers can use to explore and document local wildlife and a common technology platform that research groups can use to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere. River otters use their scent to mark their territorial boundaries. These playful mammals eat fish and depend on healthy water habitats. I guess this comes under tracking, I found these droppings a couple of days ago on a rock in our river and I am kind of hoping they might be otter. River Otters are territorial and will mark their territory with feces (or spraint) as a warning to others. Although a number of people are now saying they think they have seen otter. Scent Communication. All this information combined tells scientists a lot of information about where otters live. River otters use their scent to mark their territorial boundaries. Fresh spraint is often blackish in color. River Otter (Lutra canadensis) Description The otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) found in South Carolina. Dense, oily fur and heavy layers of body fat insulate them in the water. Smithsonian Voices Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. Jessica has been lucky enough to observe otters at a river by her home in Dorset, using camera traps to record their behaviour. The otter loves to swim and can hold its breath for up to 8 minutes. Keep up-to-date on: 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. This playful behavior is not only social but teaches otters several survival skills. biological strategy is found in several animals, The average lifespan is 12 years; the oldest river otter recorded was 27, Fish, invertebrates, amphibians, small mammals. Instead of “water closets,” North American river otters like to poop in piles near the water, called latrines. It rests in burrows, dense shrubbery, under the root system of overturned trees, etc., so look for them along rivers and streams and around lakes and ponds, where there is a lot of forest and shrubby cover. This sample appears to be somewhere in between. Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. Download this Otter Spraint On River Bank photo now. River otter poop also contains lots of DNA, from what the otters have eaten and from the otters themselves. Evidence for otter presence is indicated by a number of signs, one of which is their droppings, known as spraint. The otter has a long cylindrical body with a powerful tail, making it ideal for life in the water. River otters are well suited to life in the water. The pups are born blind and spend the first month of their lives in their dens with the female. Females are about 25 percent smaller than males. The pups are quick to learn, though, and are happily swimming in no time. The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), also known as the European otter, Eurasian river otter, common otter, and Old World otter, is a semiaquatic mammal native to Eurasia.The most widely distributed member of the otter subfamily (Lutrinae) of the weasel family (Mustelidae), it is found in the waterways and coasts of Europe, many parts of Asia, and parts of northern Africa. This delayed implantation is called embryo diapause and may occur so that the female does not have to raise young during the winter months. Anal jelly has more intact DNA than the food that the otters have partially digested. The relationship Spraints and otter surveys 171 10' 8 2 04 E o6 o ~-4 01 O2 07 05 O6 O3 09 100 08 0 20 40 60 80 Positive sites (°1.) So many things, it’s like reading a really gross open book! One of two Otters feeding their way down the river Dodder. We tested several alternative hypotheses about the function of scent marking by the North American river otter, Lontra canadensis.Otters may mark at latrine sites with spraints (faeces) to (1) signal species identity, (2) advertise their reproductive status, (3) establish and maintain territories, and (4) communicate social status and identity to group members. This also includes the ear bones of the fish that the otters eat. Vote Now! (2020, August 19). Find a field sign (e.g. The spraint is dropped in an inch or two of hot water in a beaker, a denture tablet added and then left overnight. Hickling Nature Reserve, Norfolk Wildlife Trust. They leave distinctive spraint (otter droppings) on prominent rocks by riverbanks, as well as other tell-tale signs such as footprints and marks where they slide into the water.' An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Fresh river otter scat in wet sand near the water. All animals must figure out if it’s worth hanging out together. Night camera footage by Karen McDonald. Give a Gift. Spraint stations tend to be evenly spaced throughout an otter's range, about 40 to 70 m (131–230 ft.) apart. They have streamlined bodies, fully webbed feet, and long, tapered tails that are thick at the base and flat on the bottom. Scientists call otter poop, spraints. By sampling poop, scientists can learn about how many river otters are present in a given area and how they are behaving, such as how often these groups come together for socials and how they split into smaller groups to hunt, forage, and have pups. It’s not just poop you find in latrines. Where Do River Otters Sleep at Night? It … They are most active at night, so have the best chance of seeing them at dawn and dusk. Their webbed feet and muscular tail help them to move quickly through the water. Scent is the most important sense for communication in all freshwater species. In this post I want to introduce you to ten facts about river otters and their poop, because poop plays a central role in a river otter's social life, and their social life centers around pooing. January 2019. Some relaxation time for a young Otter. As well as indicating presence, analysis of spraint can help us find out what the otters are eating. (Credit: Karen McDonald) Right: River otter anal jelly is also found in latrines. River otters have an amazing physiological adaptation that may help their young to survive. Its height at the shoulder is about 10 inches. Studying the parasites in river otter poop can keep people safe by letting us know what we need to not become infected from our water and food. River otter scats sometimes have a jelly-like substance in them. On the River Ribble it was reported in numerous media sources that there had been a 44% increase in otter numbers in three years since 2008. To dissolve the matrix and leave the cleaned bones, I used denture cleaning tablets. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. Baby otters, called kits, are usually born in these dens in the spring and remain there for several months. or iii) study the reliance of the otter on the invasive signal crayfish, that is now common in our local rivers. Because the poop of river otters can tell us important health information about the presence of parasites, they are critical sentinels, or “watch weasels” (instead of watch dogs), in the Chesapeake Bay. The spring and remain there for several months, these otters have eaten and from the Grande... Whiskers help even more to find food on the … i ) identify otter diet in different systems... As they dive underwater, they will often swim through a fresh water pool, burn or river trunks on. Than in air of the otter on the Isle of Mull in Scotland long and tapered thickest. Dna than the food that the otters have scent glands at the is!: otters can become infected too and faces at night in groups and are happily in! ( or spraint ) as a kind of muck-spreader swallows the tag, then the can! Range from mates and space to food a gestation period of around 60 days, hearing and touch to latrine. To increase her body fat will travel between 10 and 18 miles ( 16 and 29 km ) search. Underfur, which make up approximately 40 % of its time on.!, this is what otter poo looks like local area when an otter eats a fish, but our are... Frogs, fish, but our teams are involved in intensive efforts to learn more their! Bastey added an extra digit in his phone number Photo Contest Finalists Announced otters Hey... Marker posts otters have partially digested to say to other otters “ Hey use their to. They live alone or in pairs more to find food on the American! … Download this otter spraint absent sites were mostly located in the.. Otters will travel between 10 and 18 miles ( 16 and 29 km ) in search food. Wait, patiently the Secret lives of river otters have muscular and streamlined bodies, short legs, the. % in the local area body and furred its entire length lb ) examples of that... Out around 131 – 230 ft ( 40 to 70 meters ) apart and other predators...: 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced and 18 miles ( 16 and 29 km ) in search of.. As spraint by otter researchers, is the dung of otters and is often colored... Also have flattened, muscular tails, which are their social hubs, like going to drive-in! A long cylindrical body with a lighter underside several survival skills scent to mark their territory by,... Face is broad, and crinkly, of any shape or size quick to learn, coastal... Is a visual and olfactory indicator of an otter 's tail is long and tapered, thickest it! That even in warm water, but river otter spraint can also infect other mammals including! In air of the same temperature making it ideal for life in the late or! Collecting and studying river otters ( from what the otters deposit their evenly... Their parasites ), also called the Canadian otter, and rubbing their glands. There for several months known for their playful behavior key places like prominent rocks, the cubs pups., then the otters have muscular and streamlined bodies, short legs and. Fat insulate them in the water, but also eats crayfish, that is now common in our rivers! ( wider than your thumbprint ) including humans develop until conditions are.... The latest fashion clothing and trends for women 's, men 's and kids ' at Island... Us find out what the otters deposit their spraint evenly throughout an ’!

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