Could we have an otter?

Hello everyone. This is my first post here. I swear we just saw a small otter in our backyard. Which may not sound strange, except we are in the NE suburbs of Atlanta. We do have running water out back – a small drainage ditch that plays host to creatures like snapping turtles (a large lady left some eggs in our yard last summer but they did not hatch), rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks… There is not enough water to sustain fish or anything like that. I was shocked last summer when the turtle crawled into our yard, but was more shocked just now when we looked out the window.

This critter came out of the bushes, looked around, and went back in. He was about the size of a squirrel, but a dark brown/russet color, with an elongated body and smaller tail than the Eastern Grays we have in abundance. When we went back into the hedge, he pretty nimbly climbed over/onto some brush and then disappeared.

I’d love to know if anyone has suggestions on what we have back there (even if it’s an aberrant squirrel!). I’m going to be keeping a close watch out there now.

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If it was about the size of a squirrel, I doubt it was an otter, but maybe you saw a mink? The first time I saw one, I was baffled as well, and my mind went to “tiny otter”.

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I would guess Mink also. I’ve seen them a couple times in Alabama and they are overall dark brownish, with a white patch on throat (which might or might not be apparent), and are more nimble on land than an otter – more like a weasel.

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I thought this was a request for an otter. Couldn’t we all use an otter these days?

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I appreciate you so much, because I NEEDED that laugh!! :)

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Y’all, I pulled up some images, and I think we have a winner!! Mink would not have occurred to me, but I’d wager my next mortgage payment that’s what it was. Ohhhhh I hope he hangs around & it wasn’t a total fluke.

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Sounds likely I think. I certainly don’t think it sounds like a North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) which I think is the only possible species of otter? They’re one of the large otters, bigger than the European Otter which is itself much bigger that a squirrel (I’ve only seen North American river otter in a zoo, there’s one near us that has lots of otter species).

At least where you are a mink is a good thing (in the UK where I live they are an invasive species and eat various native species).

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A mink could get along very well in our back yard. When we bought the house, it was pretty overgrown, and we’ve largely left it that way. I’ve just never seen one in 2.5 years here. I am excited! I don’t need a reason to spend more time looking out the window, but now I have one anyway. :)

We have river otters in Zoo Atlanta, and they are quite large. I just couldn’t think of anything else shaped like that. I appreciate this site so much as a resource!

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I suspect mink are like our Long-tailed Weasels in that they are active foragers and might only pop up where you will see them only infrequently. But they are still in the area, just elusive. The two that I saw in AL were along a stream and stuck their head up (periscoped) to check me out then were gone. The white patch on the throat was evident in my sightings, so keep that in mind if you see it again and it looks in your direction.

If you can get a camera trap, sounds like your yard would be a good place to set one. We’re actually starting a camera trap survey for mink in my state (NM) in next couple of months. The species has not been confirmed here for about 30 years.

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We have a camera out back. It has an IR function, but it’s not a full-on trail camera and doesn’t capture small movements or great detail. We’ve caught a few deer and lots of tree branches blowing in the wind. We have everything from deer to coyote to chipmunks to raccoons to opossum… But the littles will not set off the motion sensor. I’d love an actual trail camera.

It would be SO exciting if you can capture a mink on camera in NM! I’m rooting for you. I get excited about even the most common creatures around here. This little guy was a real treat today, because my daughter got to see him too.

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I’d also keep an eye out for tracks and scat. Mink tracks are pretty distinct, and they usually like to defecate in very obvious areas, like on top of big rocks, to mark territory.

If it does stick around, that’s a great sign that you’re managing your land well! Mink are predators, and ferocious for their size, so if one stays living there, it means that there’s abundant prey. I hope you get photos of it, or at least of its tracks!

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Welcome to the forum. Great minds think alike! My thoughts went there too. I was going to say ‘just hold on a second, I think I have one in the basement’

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I have a mink problem at my house; one has been getting into the chicken pen. So far has not killed any, but actually caught one last time! We put smaller wire around the edges and haven’t seen it since, so hopefully that’s the end of it. I saw it up close once, and yes, brown with white chin. It was very cute so I’m kind of sad about having to chase it away. (Also wish I could get a picture, but if I see it that means it’s chasing the chickens, which is not a good time for a photo shoot.)

I thought the same, that’s what made me click it. “Wait, what? You want an otter?”

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