Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back to the Otter Latrine

As some of you may remember, I've been monitoring a River Otter (Lontra canadensis) latrine for a while now (see The Otter Latrine, posted on March 11, 2011 for a discussion of what an otter latrine is; What Makes the Otter Crap Red?, posted on March 16, 2011). 

I haven't posted anything from it in some time, but that doesn't mean nuthing's been shaking down at the stream-side defecation station!

If you're a person that's interested in learning to identify animal scat, I think it's helpful to see many examples because there's so much variation in how scats appear. So, I'm going to post more otter defecant pictures (plus, there's nuthin' better than animal poop pics...who's with me?!  Right?!).  The last of the otter crap pics I posted were taken on 11 March, 2011.

Here are some from a few days later (15 March, 2011).

Above: Two more examples of otter scat as they were found on March 15, 2011.
Note that both of these lack the dominance of fish scales found in earlier examples.
These contain a healthy dose of crunched up crayfish exoskeletons.

So, the last half-way decent otter pic occured on March 1, 2011.  I swapped memory cards on March 2, and wasn't back for about a week to check the camera.  When I came back on March 15, I realized that fresh otter scat had been deposited on mounds of leaves in my absence (see pictures above).  So, I knew there would be something on the camera.  Just wasn't sure if any of the pictures would be good.

So when I arrived at home, I scrolled through the photos the camera had taken.  Of course some of the usual suspects were there in excess (racoons and deer....seriously, it would take me an hour just to count every racoon and deer that passes this camera in a month's time!). 

In addition, on March 4th I was lucky enough to get a series of pictures of an otter actually dragging leaves/debris into a mound to defecate on!

Then, about four days later an otter returned to deposit another little gift.

Not long afterwards (in addition to the same constant string of racoons and deer), a Coyote (Canis latrans) poses for a nice shot.  This was March 12th.

A few hours later on the same date, an otter passes by (and, of course, the camera only catches his back-half).

About 5 days after the picture of the otter's backside, an otter FINALLY sits still for a nice shot.

I'll round this post off with a photo of a Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) captured in the evening on March 17th.  This is the first Gray Fox that I've gotten a photo of at this location.

The camera remains over the otter latrine at the time of this post.  More otter pictures to come!


  1. Well done! I look forward to seeing more.

    Since your 'red crap' post I've been keeping a look-out for red scats from our Cape Clawless otters. I'm sure I saw it once but never photo'd it. Will keep looking.

  2. Excellent!

    Thanks, Jeremy.

    I will be posting more otter pics in the future. They've been more active in the last few weeks, which suprised me (everything I've read says that highest latrine activity is in Feb/March).

  3. Nothing better than otters and scat! Great pics, especially the second to last. My students go through my nature pics and my blog and they think it is so funny that I have scat photos. It gives an entirely different meaning to "crappy pics"! Great post Trailblazer.


  4. Ha! Amen to that! I have more mammal crap pictures than I do mammal pictures :)

    What kind of students are you usually working with?

  5. I teach 2nd-5th grade technology and science. I also do summer outdoor adventure courses with the same age groups. I love how curious they are, as well as how quickly they learn things. It's really important to get them outside at this age.


  6. Outstanding! It's great to get kids into science and the natural world at a young age....I find at the college level a disturbing number of kids in the US are afraid of science (and even afraid of the outdoors)! Afraid to the point that they wont even try to understand it.

    Get 'em young, I say!

    keep up the good work Knapperbill!