Diet / Nutrition
The diet of otters depends on local prey distributions and varies between seasons. A variety of fish species are considered the main prey of otters. Otters hunt all available fish species, including eel and prickly perch. Hunting usually occurs in shallow waters close to river banks, where fish cannot escape easily. Carp and trout are easy prey in well-populated fish farms – a significant reason why conflicts rise between the natural hunting behaviour of otters and owners of fish ponds. Otters often eat small fish while swimming, bigger prey is carried to land and consumed there, with the fish held between paws. Otters eat their prey completely, including fishbone and scales. These scrape the otters' teeth while feeding, acting as a natural toothbrush. Apart from fish, otters also feed on young birds, crabs, mice and more. Mussels are consumed only sometimes, as the shells are difficult to open with teeth. Mountains of mussel shells close to water are often caused by nutria and muskrat. Otters go into the water even when there is snow and ice, so they do not suffer food scarcity during this season. Only when there are prolonged periods of frost do they encounter problems.