Want to help us locate Chesapeake Bay Otters?
You can help us in this pilot study of Chesapeake Bay Otters by e-mailing us your sightings or scat finds. Contact Karen McDonald at SERCOutreach@si.edu.
Here are some pictures to help you ID river otters:
When you look for river otters, look for their heads poking up out of the water at dawn, dusk, and at night. They have brown to gray fur and a lighter underbelly. River otters can get up to five feet long and weigh up to 30 lbs. They may be alone or in groups of 5-10 individuals.
River otter tracks have clearly defined toes and feet. They are webbed and make clear impressions in sand and mud.
A single otter poo is called a "spraint." Spraints look flaky and are usually full of fish scales. They can be found in sand or in grass. May spraints in one place is called a "latrine."
Spraints can also be found on docks and have crab pieces, crayfish pieces, bones or even feathers in them. We're also VERY interested in the parasites the poo contains too. Don't touch, but get good pictures!
Otters are awesomely gross, and one way that they tell each other they are around is marking mucus. This is a jelly-like substance that can be anywhere from white to brownish orange, and it's often found around spraints and latrines.