Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oxbow NWR 2/17/09

Susan and Janet spent a few hours at the refuge today, and found mink
tracks, raccoon tracks (everywhere), empty mussel shells (either mink or
raccoon feeding, or even otter feeding, I guess), and lots of otter sign
at the same knoll that we found on 1/25/09, when there were bobcat
tracks going to and from it, and foxy looking scats near the entry hole
and atop the knoll. This time, however, there were lots of otter scats
at the entry and on top of the knoll, and no sign of felid or canid. In
addition, there was a yellowish secretion near the entry hole, probably
from the otter's anal glands.

Last year, I saw this yellow stuff at an entry hole of a knoll at the
edge of a beaver pond at Bowers Spring. I couldn't find any otter scats
or tracks/slides, though, so I thought it was a secretion from beaver
anal glands....However, it didn't smell beaverish. I guess I've learned
what otter anal gland secretions look like, and where they like to put
it. Yellow gunk at entry holes. See photos.



  1. From Susan: I did a bit of research regarding those mussel shells, Janet, and found no reference to mink eating mussels. Raccoon and muskrat are both known to eat them. Otters do as well, but leave a small rectangular hole on one side. I'm putting my money on raccoon, given the great number of their tracks along the river's edge, which is known to be among their favorite hunting areas.

  2. I should have said that neither Rezendes nor Elbroch mentioned mussels being in the mink's diet. Upon further checking, I see that there are many internet references.

  3. Thanks, Susan. Even if there were no references to mink eating mussels, it wouldn't rule it out, anyway. It seems like we see so many exceptions to rules. Like that sign of beaver heavily feeding off red maple when other, supposedly more palatable trees, were right next to the maple. Evidently, not too many animals read the books or have internet access.