The Otter Family

While my wife and I were having breakfast out on our second-floor patio, we noticed a flurry of activity in the lake behind our house.  We often have a morning wildlife show by the resident herons, egrets, anhingas, limpkins and iguanas as well as the Muscovy ducks and the noisy Egyptian geese. Sometimes we have a visit by a group of pelicans who entertain us with their diving skills. Once in a while we see a lone roseate spoonbill.

A rare roseate spoonbill visiting our lake

This morning however was very different!   A few unusual-looking heads were bobbing up close to the shore and then four otters came ashore.

This wasn’t the first time that we had seen the Otter Family.  Sometimes on our morning walks, we had seen them playing in other parts of the lake.  Since they are known predators, they are often blamed for their attacks on some of the other wildlife in the lake.   

This morning when they were right behind our house, they began to roll around on the sandy bank.  The water level is lower than usual this time of year before the rainy season starts next month (June), so we now have a sandy beach.  They were all playing on the sand, two adults and two smaller ones, presumably children, oblivious to us observers.

I ran downstairs, grabbed my camera, and headed to our backyard.  I proceeded slowly, thinking that they were going to move immediately back into the lake.  They are usually skittish and don’t like us humans to get close to them.  But this time was strange; they stayed in place rolling in the wet sand and even looked up at me several times and made some grunting sounds.  I think I was more afraid of them than they were of me. 

One of the young otters

After I snapped away for a good five minutes while I enjoyed watching their playful behavior, they took off along the shore.   I was actually happy to see them leave in the opposite direction since I’ve read that they can be aggressive.  I’ve never heard of any attacks on humans, but on the website of the Florida Wildlife Commission (myfwc.com), they say that their prey ranges from fish, birds, reptiles all the way up to small mammals!  

Dog owners beware!  

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