Mustelids are what we call animals that are in the same family as weasels, minks, and ferrets. Perhaps one of the most lovable of this family is the river otter. River otters are a playful animal that spends much of its time in and around water habitats such as streams and lakes. These species were extirpated from Ohio in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. This means that they went locally extinct from Ohio, but were still found in some other states. In the 1980’s a project was started to reintroduce these animals back into the rivers of Ohio. It is now thought that there are around 8,000 river otters in Ohio, many of them occurring in the northeast areas of the state.

In the area of Ohio where Heartland is located, the amount of river otters is estimated to be low to rare. However, as we were walking near Alum Creek on our property, we observed what appeared to be a river otter. We are curious to find out if we have an otter that has decided to make Heartland its new home. Next time you come to visit, check out our creek area and see if you can discover any evidence of this elusive creature.

For more information on river otters check out what the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has to say:

http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/mammals/river-otter

To see river otters in person, be sure to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium which has a nice exhibit for viewing these curious and playful animals.