River Otters in Florida
River otters are fascinating creatures that can be found in various parts of the world, including the beautiful state of Florida. These semi-aquatic mammals are known for their playful nature and sleek, streamlined bodies that allow them to navigate through water with ease. In this article, we will explore the world of river otters in Florida, including their habitat, behavior, diet, and conservation efforts. So, let’s dive in and discover more about these charismatic creatures that call Florida’s rivers and wetlands their home.
- River otters are native to Florida and can be found in various freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, and marshes.
- They are excellent swimmers and have adapted to their aquatic lifestyle with webbed feet, a streamlined body, and a thick, waterproof coat.
- River otters play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitats by controlling populations of prey species.
- Conservation efforts are important to protect river otters and their habitats, as they are vulnerable to habitat loss, pollution, and hunting.
- Observing river otters in the wild can be a rewarding experience, but it is important to maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing their natural behavior.
The River Otter: A Florida Native
A. Understanding the River Otter Species in Florida
The river otter, scientifically known as Lontra canadensis, is a fascinating creature that calls Florida its home. These playful and intelligent mammals are an integral part of Florida’s diverse ecosystem. Let’s dive deeper into understanding the river otter species in Florida.
River otters are one of Florida’s aquatic mammals and are commonly found in freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, and marshes. They are also known as North American River Otters and are well-adapted to life in and around water. With their streamlined bodies, webbed feet, and dense fur, these otters are excellent swimmers and divers.
Otter Behavior and Diet
River otters are highly social animals and are often found in family groups called “rafts.” These rafts typically consist of a female otter, her offspring, and occasionally a male otter. They communicate with each other through a variety of vocalizations, including chirps, whistles, and growls.
When it comes to their diet, river otters are opportunistic feeders. They primarily consume fish, crayfish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals. Their sharp teeth and strong jaws allow them to catch and consume their prey with ease. River otters are skilled hunters and can even locate fish underwater using their acute sense of hearing.
Otter Conservation and Protection Measures
Due to their importance in maintaining the balance of Florida’s ecosystem, river otters are protected by state and federal laws. These conservation measures aim to ensure the survival and well-being of these charismatic creatures.
Florida has implemented various initiatives to protect river otters and their habitats. These include preserving and restoring wetlands, implementing pollution control measures, and creating wildlife corridors to connect fragmented habitats. Additionally, educational programs and public awareness campaigns play a crucial role in promoting otter conservation.
B. The Natural Range of River Otters in Florida
River otters have a wide natural range in Florida, and they can be found in various regions throughout the state. They are particularly abundant in areas with ample freshwater sources, such as rivers, lakes, and swamps.
Otter Spotting in Florida
If you’re interested in spotting river otters in Florida, there are several locations where you have a higher chance of encountering these playful creatures. Some popular spots include the St. Johns River, the Everglades, the Apalachicola River, and the Ocala National Forest.
Otter Population and Threats
The otter population in Florida has seen significant recovery over the years. Thanks to conservation efforts and habitat restoration, their numbers have rebounded. However, river otters still face threats such as habitat loss, pollution, and human disturbance.
Florida’s ecosystem is highly interconnected, and the well-being of river otters is crucial for maintaining the overall biodiversity of the region. By protecting their habitats and raising awareness about the importance of these charismatic mammals, we can ensure a thriving future for river otters in Florida.
In conclusion, river otters are fascinating creatures that contribute to the richness and diversity of Florida’s wildlife. Understanding their behavior, habitat, and conservation needs is essential for their long-term survival. By appreciating and protecting these incredible animals, we can help preserve Florida’s natural heritage for generations to come.
The Habitat of River Otters in Florida
Florida is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the charismatic river otter. These playful and agile creatures can be found in various habitats across the state, from lakes to rivers and even coastal areas. Let’s explore the different habitats where river otters thrive in Florida.
A. River Otters in Florida Lakes
Lakes provide an ideal habitat for river otters in Florida. These freshwater otters, also known as North American River Otters, are excellent swimmers and are well adapted to life in and around water. Lakes offer them an abundant food source and a safe place to build their dens.
In lakes, river otters can be found swimming gracefully, diving underwater to catch fish, crayfish, and other aquatic creatures. They are highly skilled hunters, using their keen senses and dexterous paws to locate and capture their prey. River otters are known to be opportunistic feeders, adapting their diet to what is available in their environment.
B. River Otters in South and Southwest Florida
South and Southwest Florida are also home to river otters, although their habitats differ slightly from those found in lakes. Here, these playful creatures can be found in a variety of aquatic environments, including rivers, marshes, and estuaries.
In these habitats, river otters play a crucial role in maintaining the health of Florida’s aquatic ecosystems. They help control populations of fish and other aquatic organisms, ensuring a balanced ecosystem. River otters also contribute to the dispersal of seeds and nutrients, aiding in the growth of vegetation along riverbanks and wetlands.
C. Where Do Otters Live in Florida?
River otters in Florida can be found in a wide range of habitats, including:
Rivers: River otters are often spotted in Florida’s rivers, where they use the flowing water to their advantage. These waterways provide them with ample opportunities for hunting and exploring.
Wetlands: Marshes and wetlands are another favored habitat for river otters. These areas are rich in vegetation and offer a diverse array of prey for the otters to feast upon.
Coastal Areas: River otters are also known to venture into coastal areas, such as estuaries and mangrove forests. Here, they can find a mix of freshwater and saltwater environments, providing them with a unique habitat to thrive in.
It’s important to note that river otters are a protected species in Florida, and there are measures in place to ensure their conservation. These measures include restrictions on hunting and fishing practices that may harm otters or their habitats.
In conclusion, river otters in Florida are highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats across the state. Whether it’s lakes, rivers, wetlands, or coastal areas, these charismatic creatures play a vital role in maintaining the balance of Florida’s ecosystem. So, keep your eyes peeled next time you’re near a water body in Florida, as you might just spot a playful river otter in its natural habitat.
The River Otter Population in Florida
A. The Current Status of the River Otter Population
Florida is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including the charming and playful river otters. These aquatic mammals, scientifically known as North American River Otters, are an integral part of Florida’s ecosystem. Let’s take a closer look at the current status of the river otter population in the state.
The river otter population in Florida has seen a remarkable recovery over the past few decades. Once facing significant declines due to habitat loss and pollution, conservation efforts and protective measures have helped revive their numbers. Today, these adorable creatures can be found in various habitats throughout the state, including rivers, lakes, swamps, and coastal areas.
To get a better understanding of the river otter population, scientists and researchers conduct surveys and monitor their habitats. These studies provide valuable insights into the distribution, behavior, and overall health of the otter population. By tracking their numbers and observing their interactions, experts can assess the success of conservation efforts and implement necessary measures to ensure their continued well-being.
B. Factors Influencing the River Otter Population
Several factors influence the river otter population in Florida. Understanding these factors is crucial for effective conservation and management strategies. Let’s explore some of the key elements that impact the otter population.
Habitat Availability: River otters rely on freshwater habitats, such as rivers, lakes, and wetlands, for their survival. The availability and quality of these habitats directly affect their population. Pollution, habitat destruction, and water scarcity can pose significant challenges to their well-being.
Food Availability: Otters are opportunistic feeders, consuming a variety of prey, including fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and small mammals. The abundance of these food sources in their habitat plays a vital role in sustaining their population. Changes in prey availability due to overfishing or environmental factors can impact otter populations.
Human Interactions: Human activities can have both positive and negative impacts on the river otter population. Conservation efforts, such as habitat restoration and pollution control, contribute to their recovery. However, factors like habitat fragmentation, water pollution, and accidental trapping can pose threats to their survival.
Climate Change: The effects of climate change, such as rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns, can indirectly impact the river otter population. Changes in water levels, habitat suitability, and food availability can disrupt their natural behaviors and reproductive patterns.
Predators and Disease: River otters face predation from larger predators like alligators and bobcats. Additionally, diseases and parasites can affect their health and population dynamics. Monitoring and managing these factors are crucial for maintaining a stable otter population.
By considering these factors and implementing appropriate conservation measures, we can ensure the long-term survival of river otters in Florida. Protecting their habitats, promoting sustainable fishing practices, and raising awareness about their importance in the ecosystem are essential steps towards safeguarding these charismatic creatures.
In the next section, we will delve deeper into the behavior, diet, and conservation efforts related to river otters in Florida. Stay tuned to learn more about these fascinating creatures and how we can contribute to their protection.
The River Otter Season in Florida
A. Understanding the River Otter Season
Florida is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the fascinating North American River Otters. These aquatic mammals are well-adapted to Florida’s rivers and play an important role in the state’s ecosystem. To truly appreciate these creatures, it’s essential to understand their behavior and how it is influenced by the changing seasons.
In Florida, the river otter season is not a fixed period but rather a continuous cycle that is influenced by various factors such as weather patterns, food availability, and mating habits. However, there are certain times of the year when otter behavior becomes more noticeable and predictable.
During the cooler months, typically from late fall to early spring, river otters tend to be more active. This is because the cooler temperatures make it easier for them to regulate their body temperature in the water. Additionally, the abundance of food sources during this time, such as fish and crustaceans, allows otters to thrive and engage in their natural behaviors.
B. How the Season Affects River Otter Behavior
The changing seasons have a significant impact on the behavior of river otters in Florida. Let’s take a closer look at how the different seasons influence their activities:
Winter: During the winter months, river otters are more active and visible. They spend a considerable amount of time foraging for food, especially fish, which make up a significant portion of their diet. Otters are excellent swimmers and divers, and they use their sharp claws and keen sense of smell to locate and catch their prey underwater.
Spring: As spring arrives, river otters in Florida may exhibit more playful behavior. This is often seen in the form of sliding down muddy banks or engaging in social interactions with other otters. Spring is also the mating season for otters, and males may engage in playful pursuits to attract potential mates.
Summer: During the summer months, river otters may become less active during the day to avoid the heat. They are primarily crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk. Otters may retreat to shaded areas or seek refuge in their dens during the hottest parts of the day. This behavior helps them conserve energy and stay cool in the Florida heat.
Fall: As fall approaches, river otters may start preparing for the upcoming winter. They may spend more time grooming their fur to ensure it remains waterproof and insulating. Otters have a dense layer of fur that traps air, providing excellent insulation against the cold water. Fall is also a time when otters may establish or defend their territories, marking them with scent to deter other otters from encroaching.
Understanding the river otter season in Florida allows us to appreciate the unique behaviors and adaptations of these fascinating creatures. It also highlights the importance of protecting their habitats and ensuring their conservation for future generations to enjoy. By respecting their natural rhythms and taking measures to preserve their environment, we can help maintain the delicate balance of Florida’s biodiversity.
The River Otter Diet in Florida
A. What Do River Otters Eat?
River otters in Florida have a diverse diet that reflects their adaptability and resourcefulness. As skilled hunters, these charismatic creatures feed on a variety of prey found in their aquatic habitats. Let’s take a closer look at what makes up the river otter’s menu.
Fish: Fish make up a significant portion of the river otter’s diet. They are agile swimmers and skilled hunters, allowing them to catch fish with ease. Some of the fish species commonly consumed by river otters in Florida include bass, catfish, sunfish, and mullet. These fish provide the otters with essential nutrients and energy.
Crustaceans: River otters also have a taste for crustaceans, such as crayfish and crabs. These small aquatic creatures are an excellent source of protein for otters. With their dexterous paws, otters can skillfully capture and consume crustaceans, adding variety to their diet.
Amphibians: Frogs and tadpoles are another delicacy for river otters. These amphibians are abundant in Florida’s wetlands and provide a nutritious meal for otters. River otters are known to stalk their prey patiently before pouncing with lightning speed to secure their meal.
Small Mammals: River otters are opportunistic hunters and will not pass up the chance to feast on small mammals. They may prey on muskrats, mice, voles, and even young rabbits. This versatile diet ensures that otters can sustain themselves even when their primary food sources are scarce.
B. How the Florida Environment Influences the Otter’s Diet
The diverse ecosystems in Florida play a crucial role in shaping the river otter’s diet. Florida’s abundance of rivers, lakes, and wetlands provides otters with an array of food options. The availability of different prey species in these habitats influences the otter‘s feeding habits.
Freshwater Habitats: River otters are well-adapted to freshwater environments, and Florida’s numerous rivers and lakes offer them ample hunting grounds. These habitats are teeming with fish, crustaceans, and amphibians, providing otters with a reliable food source. The otter’s diet is closely linked to the availability of prey in these freshwater ecosystems.
Wetland Biodiversity: Florida’s wetlands are rich in biodiversity, supporting a wide range of plant and animal species. This diversity translates into a diverse diet for river otters. The presence of various prey species, including fish, crustaceans, and amphibians, ensures that otters can find food throughout the year.
Human Impact: While Florida’s environment provides an abundance of food for river otters, human activities can disrupt their diet. Pollution, habitat destruction, and overfishing can deplete the otter‘s food sources and disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect the otter‘s habitat and ensure a stable food supply.
In conclusion, the river otter’s diet in Florida is diverse and adaptable, reflecting the availability of prey in its aquatic habitats. Fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and small mammals form the core of their diet. The unique environment of Florida, with its freshwater habitats and wetland biodiversity, influences the otter‘s feeding habits. However, it is essential to protect these habitats and mitigate human impact to ensure the otter‘s continued access to a varied and nutritious diet.
Are River Otters Dangerous?
A. Misconceptions About River Otters
River otters are fascinating creatures that inhabit the waterways of Florida. However, there are some misconceptions about these playful mammals that need to be addressed. Let’s debunk some of the common myths surrounding river otters:
Aggressiveness: One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that river otters are dangerous and aggressive towards humans. This is far from the truth. River otters are generally shy and elusive, preferring to avoid human contact whenever possible. They are not known to attack humans unless provoked or cornered.
Threat to Children: Another misconception is that river otters pose a threat to children. While it’s important to teach children to respect wildlife and maintain a safe distance, river otters are not known to target or harm children. They are more interested in their natural habitat and finding food than interacting with humans.
Disease Carriers: Some people believe that river otters carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. While it’s true that all wild animals can carry diseases, the risk of contracting a disease from a river otter is extremely low. As long as you avoid direct contact and practice good hygiene, the chances of contracting any illness from a river otter are minimal.
B. The Reality of Human-Otter Interactions
Now that we’ve cleared up some misconceptions, let’s explore the reality of human-otter interactions:
Rare Encounters: River otters are elusive creatures, making it rare for humans to encounter them in the wild. They are most active during dawn and dusk, so if you’re hoping to spot one, those are the best times to keep an eye out. However, even if you do come across a river otter, it’s important to observe from a distance and not disturb their natural behavior.
Curiosity and Playfulness: River otters are known for their playful nature. If you do happen to spot one, you may witness them sliding down muddy banks or engaging in water-based activities. They are curious creatures and may approach humans out of curiosity, but this should not be mistaken for aggression.
Conservation Efforts: River otters play a vital role in Florida’s ecosystem. They help maintain a healthy balance by controlling populations of fish and other aquatic species. As a result, conservation efforts have been put in place to protect these charismatic creatures and their habitats. It’s important for humans to respect their space and contribute to their conservation by not disturbing their natural habitats or polluting the waterways.
In conclusion, river otters are not dangerous animals. They are fascinating creatures that contribute to Florida’s biodiversity. By understanding the reality of human-otter interactions and dispelling misconceptions, we can appreciate these incredible creatures and ensure their continued presence in our waterways. So, if you’re lucky enough to spot a river otter in Florida, remember to observe from a distance, respect their space, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
The Importance of River Otters in Florida
A. The Role of River Otters in the Ecosystem
River otters play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of Florida’s ecosystem. As one of Florida’s aquatic mammals, these fascinating creatures contribute to the overall health and biodiversity of the state’s rivers and wetlands.
1. Ecological Impact
River otters are considered a keystone species, meaning they have a disproportionately large impact on their environment compared to their population size. Their presence in Florida’s rivers helps regulate the populations of various species, ensuring the ecosystem remains in equilibrium.
2. Otter Behavior and Diet
These playful creatures are known for their playful nature and impressive hunting skills. River otters primarily feed on fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and small mammals. By preying on these animals, otters help control their populations, preventing any one species from becoming too dominant.
3. Habitat Maintenance
River otters also contribute to the maintenance of their habitats. They create burrows along the riverbanks, which serve as shelter for themselves and other animals. These burrows also help prevent erosion and provide nesting sites for other species, such as turtles and birds.
B. Why River Otters are Important for Florida Wildlife
Florida is home to several species of otters, including the North American River Otter. These otters play a vital role in the state’s wildlife and contribute to its rich biodiversity.
1. Population and Conservation
The otter population in Florida has faced challenges in the past due to habitat loss and pollution. However, conservation efforts have helped protect and restore otter habitats, leading to an increase in their numbers. Monitoring and protecting otters is crucial to maintaining the health and diversity of Florida’s wildlife.
2. Indicator Species
River otters are considered indicator species, meaning their presence or absence can indicate the overall health of an ecosystem. By monitoring otter populations, scientists can gain valuable insights into the condition of Florida’s rivers and wetlands. If otter populations decline, it may signal an issue with water quality or habitat degradation.
3. Educational and Recreational Value
River otters are a delight to observe in their natural habitat. Their playful antics and graceful swimming make them a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts and tourists alike. Encouraging responsible wildlife viewing can help raise awareness about the importance of otters and their conservation.
In conclusion, river otters are not only fascinating creatures but also vital contributors to Florida’s ecosystem. Their role in regulating populations, maintaining habitats, and serving as indicators of ecosystem health cannot be overstated. Protecting and conserving these charismatic animals is crucial for the overall well-being of Florida’s wildlife and the preservation of its natural beauty.
The Legal Protection of River Otters in Florida
A. The Penalty for Killing a River Otter in Florida
Florida is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the fascinating river otters. These playful and intelligent creatures are an integral part of Florida’s ecosystem, contributing to the balance and health of its rivers and wetlands. To ensure the conservation of river otters, the state of Florida has implemented strict legal protections and penalties for harming or killing these animals.
Under Florida law, it is illegal to kill, harm, or harass river otters without a valid permit. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enforces these regulations to safeguard the otter population and maintain the ecological integrity of Florida’s waterways. Violators of these laws can face severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
The penalties for killing a river otter in Florida vary depending on the circumstances and intent of the act. Intentionally killing a river otter is considered a third-degree felony, punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to five years. Additionally, offenders may be required to pay restitution for the value of the otter and any associated damages.
It’s important to note that even unintentional harm to river otters can result in legal consequences. Accidental trapping or injuring of otters should be reported to the FWC immediately. By promptly reporting such incidents, individuals can avoid potential legal repercussions and contribute to the conservation efforts for these remarkable creatures.
B. Conservation Efforts for River Otters
Recognizing the importance of river otters in Florida’s ecosystem, various organizations and agencies have undertaken significant conservation efforts to protect and preserve these charismatic creatures. These initiatives aim to ensure the long-term survival of river otters and maintain the ecological balance of Florida’s waterways.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) plays a crucial role in otter conservation. They conduct research and monitoring programs to assess the otter population and track their distribution across the state. By gathering data on otter behavior, diet, and habitat preferences, the FWC can develop effective management strategies to safeguard these animals.
In addition to research, the FWC works closely with landowners, developers, and the public to promote responsible practices that minimize the impact on otter habitats. They provide guidance on creating otter-friendly environments and offer educational resources to raise awareness about the importance of conserving Florida’s aquatic mammals.
Collaboration between government agencies, non-profit organizations, and local communities has also been instrumental in otter conservation. These partnerships focus on habitat restoration, such as improving water quality and preserving natural riverine habitats. By protecting and restoring otter habitats, these efforts contribute to the overall health and resilience of Florida’s rivers and wetlands.
Furthermore, public engagement and citizen science initiatives have proven to be effective tools in otter conservation. Programs like “Otter Spotter” encourage individuals to report otter sightings, helping researchers gather valuable data on otter distribution and population trends. This information aids in identifying critical areas for conservation and implementing targeted protection measures.
Overall, the legal protection and conservation efforts for river otters in Florida are essential for maintaining the state’s biodiversity and ecological balance. By respecting the laws and actively participating in conservation initiatives, we can ensure the continued survival and well-being of these remarkable creatures for generations to come.
River Otters Beyond Florida
A. Are There River Otters in Alabama?
River otters are not limited to the state of Florida; they can also be found in other parts of the United States, including Alabama. These playful and charismatic creatures are known for their love of water and can be spotted in various water bodies across the state.
In Alabama, river otters are primarily found in freshwater habitats such as rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands. These areas provide the otters with an abundant food supply and suitable shelter. The otters’ presence in Alabama is a testament to the state’s diverse ecosystem and the importance of protecting its natural resources.
River otters play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of Alabama’s aquatic ecosystems. They are considered a keystone species, meaning that their presence has a significant impact on the overall health and biodiversity of their habitat. By feeding on fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and other small aquatic animals, otters help control populations and prevent overpopulation of certain species.
B. Are There River Otters in Oklahoma?
Just like in Alabama, river otters can also be found in the state of Oklahoma. Although they were once on the brink of extinction in the state, conservation efforts have led to their successful reintroduction and population recovery.
Oklahoma’s diverse waterways, including rivers, lakes, and marshes, provide ideal habitats for river otters. These adaptable creatures have made a comeback in the state, thanks to the restoration of their natural habitats and the implementation of protective measures.
River otters in Oklahoma are known for their playful nature and excellent swimming abilities. They have a streamlined body shape, webbed feet, and a thick, waterproof coat that helps them navigate through the water with ease. Their diet primarily consists of fish, crayfish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals.
The presence of river otters in Oklahoma is not only a testament to the state’s commitment to conservation but also a sign of a healthy and thriving ecosystem. By protecting and preserving their habitats, Oklahoma ensures the survival of these fascinating creatures and contributes to the overall biodiversity of the region.
In conclusion, river otters can be found beyond the borders of Florida. Their presence in states like Alabama and Oklahoma highlights the importance of preserving and protecting the natural habitats that support these charismatic creatures. By understanding their behavior, diet, and habitat requirements, we can work towards ensuring the long-term survival of river otters and the ecosystems they inhabit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is the current river otter population in Florida?
A1: The exact number of river otters in Florida is not known, as they are widely distributed across the state and can be difficult to count. However, they are not considered endangered or threatened, indicating a healthy population.
Q2: Are river otters native to Florida?
A2: Yes, the North American River Otter is native to Florida. They are a vital part of Florida’s aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity.
Q3: Are river otters in Florida dangerous?
A3: River otters are generally not dangerous to humans unless provoked or threatened. However, they are wild animals and should be observed from a distance.
Q4: What species of river otter can be found in Florida?
A4: The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is the species found in Florida.
Q5: What is the range of the river otter in Florida?
A5: River otters in Florida have a wide range, inhabiting both coastal areas and inland waterways throughout the state. They are particularly common in the freshwater lakes and rivers of Florida.
Q6: What do river otters in Florida eat?
A6: River otters in Florida have a varied diet, primarily consisting of fish, but they also eat crustaceans, amphibians, small mammals, and occasionally birds.
Q7: Where do river otters live in Florida?
A7: River otters in Florida can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats, including rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes. They are also known to inhabit man-made water bodies like canals and reservoirs.
Q8: Are there any penalties for killing a river otter in Florida?
A8: Yes, river otters are protected under Florida law. Killing a river otter without a permit can result in fines and penalties.
Q9: What role do river otters play in Florida’s ecosystem?
A9: River otters are important for maintaining balance in Florida’s ecosystems. They help control populations of certain species, like fish and crustaceans, and their burrowing habits can change the landscape, creating new habitats for other species.
Q10: How can I spot a river otter in Florida?
A10: River otters are most active during dawn and dusk. Look for them near bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and swamps. They are playful creatures and are often seen sliding down muddy or snowy banks into the water.