Gosforth Nature Reserve Journal: Otter Antics

Enjoy a closer look at Gosforth Nature Reserve’s Otters in a new blog by local naturalist and volunteer, Christopher Wren.

This month there is exciting news from the otters in Gosforth Nature Reserve. The first trail camera evidence of new cubs was in the second week of November, with a glimpse of two tails and a tell-tale squeak from a cub. A week later there was a clear, if brief, sighting of the mother otter with two small cubs. At this young age they keep very close to her.

These cubs are small. The mother was courting the male in the first week of May so I think the new cubs couldn’t have been more than 19 weeks old, which is quite young to be following mother around. After that, the cameras only saw single otters until the beginning of this month in the snow, when the cubs were perhaps 22 weeks or so. This time the family came up to the bank twice, towards three cameras although the bottom camera missed the second visit.

The dog otter also went by the cameras in the snow, having a little slide down the slope. You can see how he isn’t sure about the ice and tests it before deciding it won’t bear his weight. He then dives through a hole in the ice made by an otter, probably him as well, about an hour before.

Last week the otter cubs and their mother reappeared on the cameras for two nights in a row. They are a month older than their first appearance and already look bigger and more agile.

Unlike most of our other mammals, otters are non-seasonal breeders and can have cubs at any time of the year, probably because they have a year-round food supply and because it takes a long time for the youngsters to learn all they need to know to survive independently. The new cubs are the sixth set I have seen on the cameras since I started following the GNR otters in February 2019. I hope to post more photos and videos as these cubs grow over the next few months.

Christopher Wren
Local Naturalist and Volunteer

Christopher Wren is a volunteer in Gosforth Nature Reserve and a local naturalist, interested in most areas of natural history, especially mammals and using trail cameras to study their behaviour.

Visit Chris’ blog for more updates on North East’s wildlife – TrogTrogBlog