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Do we have a member who is knowledgeable about otters?

Jan M.

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We live in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale and our view from our living room is of a canal and the houses across the canal. This morning we watched an otter chasing the Muscovy ducks and Egyptian geese back and forth through the yards of eight connected townhouses across the canal from us. It got right up close to the houses as the back yards aren't that deep. I called my husband to come out to our back screened lanai to watch with me. We know that otters are playful but it sure didn't look like this otter was playing. It looked desperate to catch a meal. It got close to one of the Egyptian geese but decided not to go after something that big. Muscovy ducks don't get spooked by much so most of the adults just moved a little father away and the chasing went on for quite a while. There were a couple of mama ducks with some ducklings that took to the water. Had the otter gone in the water after them it could have easily grabbed itself a nice duckling meal. Otters are great swimmers but awkward at running so it struck me as very strange to see an otter trying to run down it's prey rather than trying to get it in the water. It had to stop and rest of couple of times. It was kind of sad to watch the poor otter. About an hour later I went back out on the lanai to check on the two ducks in our yard that weren't brave enough to stay on the other side of the canal because they still hadn't moved from where they were sitting. The water level is down in the canal and the otter must have been below the top of the bank were I couldn't see it because I startled it and it dove in the water.

There is a nice lake nearby with no development on one side and some marshy areas and that is where this otter probably came from. There are definitely fish in the canal and we typically see turtles, ibis, egrets, herons and even vultures in the winter months. Once in while we see an iguana, a raccoon and of course gators. Lately all we've been seeing are the Muscovy ducks and Egyptian geese and when that happens I usually figure we have another gator that has gotten bigger. Down the canal from us there is a sunny spot they like to lay in so when one gets bigger one of the homeowners who lives in that section calls and they come out and remove it. Now I'm wondering if the otter may have been hunting this area for at least a week or so.

We thought the otter's behavior wasn't normal so called around until we finally were directed to the Florida Fish and Wildlife office. The person I spoke with was pretty excited that we got to see an otter and yes we were excited but she didn't seem concerned after I said that the animal didn't appear to be injured. We'd been watching it through binoculars. She said it might be pregnant or have babies because it's that time of year. It didn't look pregnant but like I said it did look desperate to catch something. She said they eat a lot and will eat just about anything and I knew that much. Several people on the other side of the canal have small dogs and one is an incessant yapper when they put it outside by itself. I wondered if the otter might find it a tasty meal. She seemed to think it wouldn't go well for the dog if the otter was around when it was out by itself. She wasn't concerned that it had no fear about being that close to the houses. She said to call back if we saw it again and it appeared to be hurt.

So is this normal behavior for an otter or is there cause for concern?
 

DaveNV

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I'd say no cause for concern. As you say, it didn't appear injured, the person on the phone said it wasn't a problem, and it didn't actually catch anything. It could have been a youngster practicing, or may have been a mother trying to scare the ducks away from her kits. I'd say let Nature take its course. There isn't much you can do anyway. :shrug:

I'd be more concerned about the neighbor's yappy dog and an alligator, than with the otter.

Dave
 

easyrider

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We live in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale and our view from our living room is of a canal and the houses across the canal. This morning we watched an otter chasing the Muscovy ducks and Egyptian geese back and forth through the yards of eight connected townhouses across the canal from us. It got right up close to the houses as the back yards aren't that deep. I called my husband to come out to our back screened lanai to watch with me. We know that otters are playful but it sure didn't look like this otter was playing. It looked desperate to catch a meal. It got close to one of the Egyptian geese but decided not to go after something that big. Muscovy ducks don't get spooked by much so most of the adults just moved a little father away and the chasing went on for quite a while. There were a couple of mama ducks with some ducklings that took to the water. Had the otter gone in the water after them it could have easily grabbed itself a nice duckling meal. Otters are great swimmers but awkward at running so it struck me as very strange to see an otter trying to run down it's prey rather than trying to get it in the water. It had to stop and rest of couple of times. It was kind of sad to watch the poor otter. About an hour later I went back out on the lanai to check on the two ducks in our yard that weren't brave enough to stay on the other side of the canal because they still hadn't moved from where they were sitting. The water level is down in the canal and the otter must have been below the top of the bank were I couldn't see it because I startled it and it dove in the water.

There is a nice lake nearby with no development on one side and some marshy areas and that is where this otter probably came from. There are definitely fish in the canal and we typically see turtles, ibis, egrets, herons and even vultures in the winter months. Once in while we see an iguana, a raccoon and of course gators. Lately all we've been seeing are the Muscovy ducks and Egyptian geese and when that happens I usually figure we have another gator that has gotten bigger. Down the canal from us there is a sunny spot they like to lay in so when one gets bigger one of the homeowners who lives in that section calls and they come out and remove it. Now I'm wondering if the otter may have been hunting this area for at least a week or so.

We thought the otter's behavior wasn't normal so called around until we finally were directed to the Florida Fish and Wildlife office. The person I spoke with was pretty excited that we got to see an otter and yes we were excited but she didn't seem concerned after I said that the animal didn't appear to be injured. We'd been watching it through binoculars. She said it might be pregnant or have babies because it's that time of year. It didn't look pregnant but like I said it did look desperate to catch something. She said they eat a lot and will eat just about anything and I knew that much. Several people on the other side of the canal have small dogs and one is an incessant yapper when they put it outside by itself. I wondered if the otter might find it a tasty meal. She seemed to think it wouldn't go well for the dog if the otter was around when it was out by itself. She wasn't concerned that it had no fear about being that close to the houses. She said to call back if we saw it again and it appeared to be hurt.

So is this normal behavior for an otter or is there cause for concern?

I'm glad you called Fish and Wild Life because........................................... they otter know, lol. :D Yes , I thought that was funny, lol.

Bill
 

Jan M.

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The officer I spoke with had only ever seen an otter twice so she was more excited about us seeing one than concerned. She didn't seem to know more that what I read online before we decided to call. Back in Pennsylvania if you were to see something like this your first thought would be to worry that it might be rabid. I was under the impression that otters live in groups, they're called romps, and aren't solitary animals but I found out they can be although it's unusual.

Watching that poor thing's repeated attempts to catch a duck made us wonder if it was actually a wild animal or it had escaped or been released. The Muscovy ducks around here are pretty tame so they didn't leave and after a while it got hard to watch the poor otter not be able to catch one. We have some cans of sardines in our hurricane supplies and I had a few moments of wanting to put some out for the otter but I know better than to do something like that.

Seeing the otter was the most excitement we've had in the two months we've been staying home. If it weren't for COVID-19 we would have been traveling so wouldn't have been home to see it. I'm glad Jim saw it too because I doubt he would have believed me if he hadn't seen it for himself. It's not something you expect to see in a residential area.
 

pedro47

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I agree, sound like, it was an otter that have escape from Sea World or some other aqua theme park attractions in Florida.
 

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I agree, sound like, it was an otter that escaped from Sea World or some other aqua theme park attractions in Florida.

The only aqua-park in "the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale" is the Miami Seaquarium. It's 32 miles away (via I-95). Then there's the Miami Zoo, which is 48 miles away (via highways). It's possible, but I doubt an otter would want to walk/swim or hitch a ride for that distance.

It could be a descendant of otters that migrated the Kissimmee River, which begins near Disney World and flows into Lake Okeechobee, thence thru swamps and canals to the East Coast.

In any event, it's very unusual.
The nearest wild one to Florida that I've seen was the Okefenokee Swamp in SE Georgia.
 
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MULTIZ321

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Cuddle Up With the Sea Otters of the Pacific Coast.


.


Richard
 

DaveNV

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Cuddle Up With the Sea Otters of the Pacific Coast.


.


Richard

I happened to catch a science-y show this morning about wildlife along Big Sur. They were talking about sea otters. The narrator said, "They look cuddly, but they are nicknamed "kelp grizzlies." I'd never heard that term before. :)

Dave
 

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...or, the corollary. "Things that make TUG worth visiting every day for $1,000, Alex..."
 

bbodb1

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I'd say no cause for concern. As you say, it didn't appear injured, the person on the phone said it wasn't a problem, and it didn't actually catch anything. It could have been a youngster practicing, or may have been a mother trying to scare the ducks away from her kits. I'd say let Nature take its course. There isn't much you can do anyway. :shrug:

I'd be more concerned about the neighbor's yappy dog and an alligator, than with the otter.

Dave

Maybe......no......well.....
 

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DD lived on Orcas Island In the San Juans for about 18 months on a sailboat.....this guy was a common visitor and she would see him sunning himself almost every day.

otter2.jpg
 

DaveNV

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DD lived on Orcas Island In the San Juans for about 18 months on a sailboat.....this guy was a common visitor and she would see him sunning himself almost every day.

View attachment 20373

It's hard to tell from the picture. Are you sure that's an otter? It looks more like a harbor seal to me. :)

Dave
 

Jan M.

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The only aqua-park in "the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale" is the Miami Seaquarium. It's 32 miles away (via I-95). Then there's the Miami Zoo, which is 48 miles away (via highways). It's possible, but I doubt an otter would want to walk/swim or hitch a ride for that distance.

It could be a descendant of otters that migrated the Kissimmee River, which begins near Disney World and flows into Lake Okeechobee, thence thru swamps and canals to the East Coast.

In any event, it's very unusual.
The nearest wild one to Florida that I've seen was the Okefenokee Swamp in SE Georgia.

We are about 1.5 miles from the Everglades. I've had time to think some more about what I expected to hear from the Fish and Wildlife person I spoke with. We're entering the dry season which means less water in the Everglades and more chances of fires. Some of you may not be aware of how badly the pythons are wreaking havoc on the native animals and the food supply chain in the Everglades. I'm guessing the otter may have found that the lake close to us is a safer place to live with a better food supply.

The green area to the left is the Everglades. The lake that is close to us and that our canal connects to is the one by Millennium school in the middle of the picture and left of the center. There is a housing plan facing part of one side of the lake but the rest of the area around the lake is undeveloped.


1589087998010.png
 

Talent312

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So the otter could be a refuge from the Glades. Makes sense.
 

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If you google : otter eats koi
you will find stories from 2018 and 2019 in Vancouver BC .

It was an interesting story - and may give some insight into otter behaviour .
 
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Jan M.

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If you google : otter eats koi
you will find stories from 2018 and 2019 in Vancouver BC .

It was an interesting story - and may give some insight into otero behaviour .

One of the things the woman I spoke to mentioned was that otters are voracious eaters and can decimate a stocked pond. That was after I said I didn't know why the otter was trying to catch a duck when there are plenty of fish in the canal and the lake. We have a big sliding glass door in our living room that looks out to the canal so you'd have to make a major effort not to see the canal.. In the early morning or evening I like to step out on the lanai to see the sunrise and sunset and the fish are usually feeding then. Until I read what you posted it didn't register that I haven't been seeing the ripples from the fish feeding or seeing them surface like I normally do. It's sprinkling right now but later we'll have to walk up and down the canal to see if we can see fish carcasses on the bank. The agency that controls the water level in the canals dropped the water level when the quarantine started so I can see a lot of exposed bank across the canal but not on our side. From what I read otters leave a lot of food debris.
 

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1589116540021.png


This is the only Otter I know anything about ;) .

Cheers
 

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x3 skier

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That is a sight for sore eyes....having lived next to the Minnesota Sea Plane base, I miss those sounds and sights.....[sigh]

Going to Florida at the end of the month to get my Seaplane Rating in a J-3 Cub.

Cheers
 

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It's hard to tell from the picture. Are you sure that's an otter? It looks more like a harbor seal to me. :)

Dave


You are probably correct Dave... That is why I specifically didn't say he was an otter.... :p I wasn't sure... just a nice picture of critters in our great NW area
 

DaveNV

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You are probably correct Dave... That is why I specifically didn't say he was an otter.... :p I wasn't sure... just a nice picture of critters in our great NW area

Ok, good to know it wasn't my eyes. :D

I lived on Orcas Island for nine years, and I remember well all the wildlife around there - in and out of the water. Smallest deer I've ever seen. Many dog breeds are bigger.

Dave
 
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