Otters playing on snow and ice – Yellowstone, USA 2023

Otters playing on snow and ice. As we drove along the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, we were scanning the Yellowstone River and its banks for wildlife. Otters – four of them! We noted that they were heading downstream so we made a beeline for the Chittenden Bridge in the hope we would see the Otters playing on snow and ice. Our gamble paid off as we were afforded great views of the otters. They climbed onto a snow bank, clambered around and slid along on the ice – a seething mass of otters! Eventually, they slid off into the river and disappeared from view. A very special encounter with this female and her three pups. Otters playing on snow and ice – what a treat!

North American River Otters live only in the North American continent. Although called River Otters they are at home on land as well as water. They are 0.66-1.07m long with males weighing on average 11kg and females 8kg. Almost one third of their length is taken up with a highly muscular tail that powers them through the water. Their sleek, streamlined shape allows them to reach speeds of up to 13km/hr swimming under water for 2-3 minutes. This makes tracking them very challenging.