Tuesday 28 February 2012

Otter poo reveals surprising facts about otter's diet - Includes birds and mice

Finding remains of eels, fish, crabs and even birds
February 2012: A group of volunteers rolled up their sleeves to find out more about what otters eat in North Wales  – at a special workshop earlier this month.

In the workshop, organised by the Mammals in a Sustainable Environment (MISE) project at Treborth Botanic Gardens, more than 40 volunteers dissected otter droppings, know as spraints, to see what they could find. The remains of eels, marine and freshwater fish, crabs, amphibians and even birds and mice were all among their discoveries – more than 23 different prey species in total. 

The spraints were collected by volunteers last year, along the North Wales coast and in Waterford, Ireland. Mammal ecologist Rob Strachan helped the volunteers identify fish bones, jaws and even mammal teeth as they picked the spraints apart. 

This gives valuable information about behaviourThe MISE project is part of an EU Interreg funded project involving the Countryside Council for Wales and The Vincent Wildlife Trust to find out more about mammals and what they need to thrive in a sustainable environment.
Ceri Morris, CCW Project Officer and workshop organiser said: ‘Analysing the otter's diet can yield valuable information not only about what they eat, but where they feed and how far they roam. We found evidence of crabs in a number of the spraints, which are generally thought of as a favourite food for young otters –so this could be evidence of breeding sites near our coasts.  

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