The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Squirrel
Story Of The Otter
Story Of The Civet
Story Of The Crocodile
Story Of The Sloth
Story Of The Tortoise
Story Of The Ocelot
Story Of The Wolf
Story Of The Badger
Story Of The Hyena
Read More Articles About: The Story Of Wild Animals
Story Of The Otter
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Were it not for the otter's desire to eat goose or duck three times a day his days on earth would be greatly prolonged, but the farmers and poultry growers have no patience with the rapacious animal and sooner or later he forfeits his life for the dainty morsel he is constantly seeking. He is so fastidious as to eat only the best parts of the fowl he has killed.
When the otter cannot secure the food of his choice he will condescend to catch fish or eat the eggs of geese or ducks.
It is extremely interesting to watch the actions of this almost amphibious creature. It slides noiselessly into the water, turns and twists about below the surface with the same or greater ease than a fish, then, with a graceful sweep of the body, it glides to the surface and ascends the bank with almost the same motion. While below the surface it bears a great resemblance to the seal, the method in which it disposes its hind feet greatly assisting the effect. Its rapid and easy movements in the water are mostly performed by the assistance of its powerful tapering tail.
The otter is easily tamed, and its predatory habits have been occasionally turned to account, as it is sometimes trained to catch fish and bring them to shore, precisely as the falcon is trained to catch terrestrial game. The Hindoos have brought the art of otter training to great perfection, and keep their otters regularly tethered with ropes and straw collars on the banks of the river.
I can bear testimony as to the long journeys undertaken by the otter from river to river across country ; these journeys mostly taking place during the winter. On such occasions they go, so fast that a man has great difficulty in overtaking them. On the ice they proceed by a series of what boys call "a run and a slide," that is, they make several jumps and then slide ahead flat on their bellies, as far as their impetus and the smoothness of the ice permit, and then do the saine thing over again, and so on. A curious habit of this otter is its propensity for sliding down smooth and steep banks, either of snow or of mud. Such gambols have been watched by me several times. It appears that in winter the animals select the highest ridge of snow, on to the top of which they scramble, whence they give themselves an impulse with their hind-legs, and swiftly glide head-foremost down the declivity, some-times for a distance of twenty yards. This sport they continue apparently with the greatest enjoyment until fatigue or hunger induces them to desist. A pair on a mud-bank made upwards of twenty-two slides before they were disturbed.
The fur of the otter is more valuable than that of any other North Amer-can animal, and is in good condition from November till the spring, but is at its best period during the latter season.
Otters are usually caught in steel traps, which are set beneath the water where one of the "slides" or tracks of the animals leads to the margin. Some-times the trap is, however, placed at the top of the slide and covered with snow. In neither case is any bait used; but in all methods the greatest care is necessary that no traces of the trapper's presence should remain, as the otter has very acute smell and sight, and is exceedingly wary and cunning.
The otter is to be found in every part of the globe, and nearly every species can be tamed. It must be taken young, however, in which case it be-comes greatly attached to its master. It will follow him with the faithfulness of a dog, but under no circumstances will it follow any other.
In the Imperial Park, at Stuttgart, Germany, are many ponds in which there are a large number of water fowls. For six or seven weeks a tame otter from a neighboring pond came nightly to feast off the fowls. It carried on its robbery so boldly that guards were set to watch for it. It destroyed all the duck eggs it could find on the islands and main land, and ate young ducks and geese, while old birds died daily from the wounds received from its bites.
It was only with great difficulty that this robber knight was surprised at his work and killed.
The sea-otter is a large marine animal found in some parts of South America. It is also found along the Pacific coast, as far north as Alaska.
The female sea-otter produces but a single young one at a birth, so that the increase of the species can be, at the best, but slow. The young may apparently be born at any season of the year, and do not attain maturity till four or five years old. The mother sleeps in the water on her back, with her young clasped between her fore-paws. The pup cannot live without its mother, though frequent attempts have been made by the natives to raise them, as they often capture them alive, but, like some other species of wild animals, it seems to be so deeply imbued with fear of man that it invariably dies from self-imposed starvation.
The food of the sea-otters is almost entirely composed of clams, mussels, and sea-urchins, of which they are very fond, and which they break by striking the shells together, held in each fore-paw, sucking out the contents as they are fractured by these efforts; they also eat crabs, and the juicy, tender fronds of kelp or sea-weed, and fish. They are not polygamous, and more than one individual is seldom seen at a time when out at sea. They are playful, it would seem, for I am assured by several old hunters that they have watched the sea-otter for half an hour as it lay upon its back in the water and tossed a piece of sea-weed up in the air from paw to paw, apparently taking great delight in catching it before it could fall into the water. It will also play with its young for hours. The quick hearing and acute smell possessed by the sea-otter are not equalled by any other creatures in the territory. They will take alarm and leave from the effects of a small fire four or five miles to the windward of them; and the footstep of man must be washed by many tides before its trace ceases to alarm the animal, and drive it from landing.
The sea-otter is often captured by shooting ft in the head with a rifle-bullet when the animal is sporting in the surf; the booming of the surf deadening the report of the rifle,