Saturday, September 21, 2013

Otters balance work and play

In the last post, we saw how super-smart dolphins find time to not only play but get their cetacean whale friends to join in.

Not to be outdone, otters are champion play-masters that can entertain others as well as themselves. Hint: very cute video!

This isn't the only star in the otter world -- other talented otters have been filmed juggling 2 rocks or balancing pet rocks on their forearms, both while entertaining a crowd of humans.

In the wild, both young and adult otters play around regularly. Two interesting tidbits from a Humboldt State University study on this:
otters show us how it's done
photo: Tony Hisgett,Wikimedia
  1. their play style -- wrestling, pouncing, and sliding -- doesn't match their fishing style; however, they do have complicated family structures, so playing together may create stronger social bonds.

  2. the amount of prey (fish, frogs, crabs, clams, etc) available influences the amount of time otters spend playing. In places where food is scarce, otters cut short the time they spend playing and socializing with each other.
So play may be a fun but luxury commodity that adults can enjoy when "work" isn't overwhelming. Sound familiar?

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