Friday, July 04, 2008

River Otter

As I was returning from a day of birding I spotted something large on side of highway 87 about 3 miles north of Sabine Pass, TX. On the edge of this road that borders Sabine Lake was a dead river otter (Lontra canadensis).
A member of the weasel family this aquatic mammal scours the depths for mollusks, crayfish, crabs, frogs, snakes, water insects, turtles, eggs, birds (young waterfowl) and of course fish. I’ve heard some fisherman talk negatively towards otters saying that they decimate “their” fish, when in fact the fish they primarily feed on are rough or “trash” fish, that is those not normally eaten by people. Its webbed feet and long tapered tail allow it to swim as well as any fish, and also has the ability to hold its breath for several minutes due to its nose and ears being “valved” which prevent water from entering. Check out this cool video of river otters I found on YouTube:

I’ve only encountered this animal a couple of times in the wild. Once I spotted an adult with a young pup crossing a road that bordered a marsh. Naturally I stopped to observe them. Upon seeing me they rushed into a patch of reeds at the edge of the road. The adult then slowly began to go back to the opposite side as if to distract me from the pup. Due to this being a busy thoroughfare it doesn’t surprise me that this happened. Hopefully it’s only an isolated incident.

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