The Otter Challenge

Shot of the Month – February 2014

North American River Otter, Yellowstone National Park - US (2222)The highlight of our trip to Yellowstone National Park in January 2014 was the 45 minutes we watched 3 North American River Otters along a mostly frozen river.

I challenge anyone to watch an otter for 10 minutes and not have his/her spirits lifted. Watch an otter family and the time drops to 2 minutes or less before one’s worries are whisked away.

Of course I may be bit biased in this assessment — I have been known to hang out at the otter display at the zoo for a an hour or more, captivated by their antics.

Otters seem to infuse  a sense of joy into every thing they do.  They never seem to miss an opportunity to rub against a member of the group and share affection.  And “play” is a big part of otter life for both young and adults alike. At Yellowstone we watched as the otters bounded through the snow like a mustelid Tigger.  The otter in my photo seemed to have a grand ol’ time as he slid up and down the skeleton runs they had created in the snow.

It was like watching a frenetic winter decathlon — at any given moment one otter or another was diving into the swirling currents (probably hunting for fish, their preferred food),  stopping for a quick nuzzle with a sibling, running and sliding on a nearby drift, popping out of the rapids for a good shake, and so on.

I could have watched all day.


Otters are best seen in action.  A few videos to brighten your day (at the risk of otter overload):

Fun comparison between beaver and otter (good otter snow sliding scenes):

Yellowstone otters doing what they do best (the narrative is a bit cheesy…):

Cutest otters E-V-E-R (show this one to your children and be sure to watch till the end):

Otter and dog friendship:

Otter rock juggling: