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Otters - Grand Teton National Park - December 2019


In Grand Teton, there are warm spring locations where the waters never freeze. This is one location in which brook trout flourish. Every year, during a few weeks in December, these trout spawn in this concentrated area allowing for easy pickings by a family of otters.

Otters are from the same classification as weasels, badgers, minks, martens and wolverines. There are 13 different species. Otters can be social and live in groups while some can enjoy a solitary lifestyle.

Otters live mostly on land and somewhat in the water. A group of otters is called a bevy, family, lodge, or ramp.

They have a very soft, insulated underfur protected by an outer layer of long guard hairs. This traps a layer of air which keeps them dry, warm and somewhat buoyant under water.

Otters can weigh up to 30 pounds and eat 20 percent of their weight daily. They are carnivorous mammals that eat fish and invertebrates. Meals may include eels, frogs, and birds.

Sleeping on a full stomach while the other has a brook trout snack

Otters have short limbs and webbed feet and can hold their breath under water for an extended period of time. Most have sharp claws and every species except the sea otter have long, muscular tails. Many species live in cold waters, therefore have high metabolic rates. This is why they eat so much. They hunt up to five hours daily, yet nursing mothers hunt up to 8 hours per day.

The gestation period is about 60 to 65 days. The newborn pup is cared for by the bitch or sow and older offspring. Bitch otters reach sexually maturity at about 2 years of age, where males (dog or boar) reach this maturity at 3 years.

Their holt or couch is built under in tree roots or a rocky cairn. After one month, the pup leaves the holt and after two months, it can swim. Otters live to about 16 years. They are playful by nature and frolic in the waters with each other especially their pups.

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