There have actually been only two researches of north American flow otter vocalizations, both discussing 12 different calls: the whine, chirp, grunt, blow, chatter, creek, squeak, scream, hiss, swish, hiccup, and whistle. You deserve to see a description of each one in the studies listed in “Sources” below. Ns was to win by the fact that neither the surname nor summary of any of those sounds matches what ns hear most generally from wild otters playing, scent marking, and also grooming at latrines, as recorded by my trail cameras.

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That common sound is an practically continuous, pulsed, short pitched vocalization that ns think of as a buzzy grunt. I’ve likewise witnessed its use in person by otters swim together. However, I have never heard it provided by lone otters. Come hear this sound – the buzzy grunt not discussed in the two research studies – watch the video below v the volume rotate up. Friend will additionally hear some chirps, and also maybe a pair of various other distinct however less usual otter sounds.

I was curious as to why nothing matching the summary of that buzzy sound was pointed out in either research of flow otter vocalizations, so ns contacted the writer of one of them. Naturalist sarah Walkley said that the sound to which i was referring is usually called a chuckle, coo, hum, or purr and considered to it is in an “affiliative / all is well” call. Ah. It way “here ns am through my friends, feeling good”. A sound of contentment. That fits perfectly with my very own observations, and “purr”, to select from amongst Walkley’s labels, is a an excellent word for it. It sounds a tiny like a cat purring, and also a little bit like a ferret “dooking” (google that one).

Walkley explained that she go not point out purring in her file because it to be used really rarely by her research subjects, two groups of captive otters. I suspect it was not mentioned in the other study (also involving only captive otters) for the exact same reason, though i did not contact the writer to ask.

So why am i making an issue around this purr? One reason is that when you acknowledge it, that sound might cue you in come the presence of otters when you’re out hiking close to a water body. That can assist you discover otters. The various other reason is the it may be informing – in a sad method – that this usual sound that contentment was hardly ever heard in the captive otters studied.

So often we humans assume that because zoo animals are fine fed and safe, they must be happy. Not necessarily so. For all us know, plenty of of them can be bored out of their minds. Maybe they lengthy for freedom, the opportunity to explore, the difficulty of foraging because that their own food, of finding their very own mates, that establishing and defending a territory. Together fairly big and intelligent creatures, otters need space and stimulation, perhaps much more than can be noted in zoos.

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We don’t know. I execute know also as a kid I never appreciated zoos. Castle look favor prisons to me.