Otters at PWC? Get otter here!

Otters at PWC? Get otter here!

by Kendelle Cooper, Wildlife Conservation Intern Spring 2017

If you haven’t already, head over to our Facebook page and check out the trail camera video of some new found otter residents! This is the first time otters have been spotted near the Piedmont Wildlife Center. Now we know they are here, it’s important to understand how these little guys make a big impact on the ecosystem.

Between the 1500s and 1900s, otters were subject to extensive overhunting and their populations took a turn for the worst. Thanks to conservation efforts, the population is now back to what it was historically all over North Carolina. This sighting is a positive sign that otter families are still maintaining stable populations around Durham County.

Otters are highly social animals, and prefer to live in groups. They have been observed making tools to aid in their acquisition of food, be inquisitive, and play together frequently.  The group we observed numbered three individuals. Classified as carnivores, they eat crayfish, insects, frogs, and fish found near aquatic habitats. They are excellent swimmers, and can stay under water for as long as eight minutes at a time. Males are generally larger than females, and baby otters are called pups. A female usually gives birth to around 2-3 pups per litter.

Observing otters near the PWC is exciting for our team because they are known to be an indicator species. This means that their presence gives us a good indication of the quality of the environment around them.  They are sensitive to pollution and bad water quality. Having them around means the land around the PWC is healthy and flourishing!

For more information about otters and the sources used for this article, visit these websites below:

PWC Facebook Video Link



NC Wildlife Resources Commission American River Otter Profile

Habitat Tracker- Florida State University: Otter