Wild Animals/Otter Relief


Oliver_Otter wrote at 2013-12-31 09:29:40
I believe I have seen the same video of the otter on YouTube, and have worked with otters for many years.  The otter in the video I have seen is definitely male; males pee from the belly, whereas females pee from under the tail.  The otter's tail is so thick and muscular for swimming power that the openings of the digestive and female urogenital tract are displaced somewhat backwards from the usual mammalian position; rather than being between the hindlegs, the openings are a couple inches behind the hindlegs at least.  Otters have genital bones, and the os clitoridis is noticeably about two inches behind the pelvis on an x-ray.  The male baculum extends several inches forward from the pelvis.  So the distance between the respective female and male openings is quite large and unmistakeable in most adult otters.  Interestingly, female otters have more variability in aim due to the massive musculature of the very flexible tail, with the same animal sometimes peeing almost a foot backwards, and sometimes forwards enough to land in front of the toes.  Males generally aim from just slightly forwards, to back just behind the heels.  But the otter in the YouTube video I saw was definitely a male with the stream emerging well out in the middle of the belly area, despite the aim being backwards between the legs.

It is hard to say for sure what an animal feels, but it did not look like a frightened otter to me, rather more like a mildly annoyed otter.  I also can't imagine an otter actually being frightened of a swan unless it was completely unaware of the bird and then suddenly startled.  Otters are in the same family as wolverines and badgers, and are quite capable of killing even large waterfowl.  It is normal for a wild otter to "hold it" and then relieve itself just before leaving a place.  The dancing is also just normal marking behavior, possibly to spread the size and evaporative area for the scent.  I have on a couple of occasions seen otters use dancing as a threat display, but never dancing while urinating.  So although the swan seems to be the reason the otter is leaving, it was in no particular hurry to actually leave.  The otter took the time to urinate while dancing in place, and even turned its back on the swan to do so.  My expectation of a frightened otter is that it would have immediately jumped into the water in the opposite direction from the swan and left, or would have immediately attacked the swan in self defense.  This seemed to be more of a leisurely decision that it just wasn't worth the trouble to fight the swan over a damp section of wood, followed by the normal behavior of an otter moving on to another section of its territory.

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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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