According to the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF), “World Otter Day brings all otter species to the attention of many people. It focuses on raising awareness about how important otters are and also highlights the threats that they face. There are certain issues faced by otters that some people are largely unaware of, such as the huge trade in these animals for pets and fur.”
World Otter Day celebrates adorable and playful aquatic mammals. This day is intended to raise awareness of the importance of otters to the environment and to make people aware of their declining populations and the reasons why.
Why are otters so important? Not only are they wonderful to watch but they are great indicators to a healthy environment, which is important for all species, including our own. 12 of the 13 species worldwide are declining due to habitat destruction, reduction in available prey, roadkill, and in Asia — illegal trade for fur and increasingly for pets.
Otters are water mammals with webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers. If you’ve ever seen them live in the wild, at a zoo, we can all agree that otters are cute and lovable and we just want to squish their little faces!
Otters are members of the weasel family, and dwell on every continent, except Antarctica and Australia. They can be found in a wide variety of waters, including lakes, ponds, rivers streams, estuaries, as well as marshlands, and wetlands. Including locally.
Otters spend most of their time in the water, and can live up to 16 years. They are carnivores, with their diet consisting of fish, crawfish, mollusks, frogs, small reptiles, and mammals. A hungry otter will also eat birds, small beavers, and even muskrats. They are also very smart animals. For example, they use small rocks as “tools,” to break open hard shells of clams and other mollusks. Otters make their home by digging holes along riverbanks. They have also been known to make their den under porches and decks, making themselves a nuisance to homeowners.
Did You Know? An otter’s den is called a “Holt” or a “Couch.”
Otters on the Endangered Species List
With the exception of North America, where their population is fairly stable, otters are decreasing in numbers all around the world. Their numbers have become vulnerable due to several reasons, including:
– Loss of habitat
– Pollution of habitat
– Trapping by humans for their pelts
– They can be a pest to homeowners along waterways and damaging to businesses like hatcheries and commercial fishponds. They then can fall victim to illegal hunting and trapping.
– They are sometimes killed by automobiles on roadways.
How to Celebrate and Participate in World Otter Day
Over twenty countries around the world celebrate World Otter Day. Here’s how you can celebrate:
– On this day, nature preservation groups provide educational programs and research programs to protect otters. Armed with this information, you can do your part to protect otters, and help to preserve their natural habitat.
– You can also support organizations that strive to do research on otters and influence governmental policies.
History and Origin of World Otter Day.
This holiday was established in 2014, by the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) in the UK. All 13 species of otters are vulnerable or at risk for survival, so remember, otters are our friends. Watch them play and swim with their little otter friends, but there is absolutely no reason do anything otter than watch them!