How to Get Rid of Otters in a Pond

It is my goal to educate the public about otters and other wildlife, and provide tips for safe, effective, and responsible wildlife removal.

HUMANE HINTS: In some cases, you don't need to remove otters at all - you can build steel fences to keep them out of the area you don't want them. You can even install surface fencing in water to protect fish. NEVER attempt to poison otters. Read below for how-to hints.

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How to Get Rid of Otters - Otters are adorable river creatures that are native to the North American continent that prefer colder areas with cold freshwater. Otters are large river mammal in the subfamily Lutrinae that can grow up to 30+ pounds and almost 4 feet long. They are best recognized for their long cylindrical bodies and puffy cheeks with large eyes and long whiskers. Otters can walk around and make their burrows on land, but they need water to hunt and play in. Otters are generally docile critters that prefer to keep away from humans, but it is not unheard of them to be aggressive when protecting their territory or their young from anything they perceive to be a predator.

Many people do not consider these cute creatures to be pests, but if you live near a water source that has a family of otters in it, you may feel differently. Otters are carnivores, and will eat a large quantity of fish, crayfish, frogs, crabs, insects and small birds in the area that they live because they must consume their weight in food every day to live. If they figure out that you have food on your property, such as a decorative goldfish pond, and in some rare cases cat food, they may decide to make your yard one of their snacking spots. Many people also report that otters are living under their house or their porch which can cause damage to your foundation. Not to mention that if one of them dies in there, the smell is absolutely horrible. If you have an otter problem, here are a few suggestions on how to get rid of them.

  • If you have a family of otters that like to come up from the water to snack on some food source, or live in some part of your property you don't want, build a fence around your property or your garden if you cannot afford to do a fence around the perimeter of your property. You can go with the traditional wooden fence or a wire mesh fence, but make sure that you bury the fence at least a foot underground and a couple feet above ground to keep all critters, not just otters, out of your yard/garden. You can also clean up all the fruit, berries, etc. that have fallen to the ground so that the smell of the ripening fruit does not attract them.
  • Some people try to use repellents to deter otters from coming onto their land. Repellents are not guaranteed to work, and in truth are usually pretty ineffective, but if you reapply them constantly they may deter the otters. There are many repellents available such as coyote, fox, king snake, etc. You can also use your own urine, which might sound nasty, but it smells like a predator to otters and it will do the trick.
  • If a family of otters has taken up residence under your house you can exclude them out. To do this you will locate where the entrance to their burrows are and plug them up except one. Sprinkle some flour down on the ground outside the entrance so you can check their foot prints, soak a rag with ammonia (this does not hurt them but is extremely unpleasant to them) and throw it into the burrow. All the otters that are in there might leave to get away from the smell. Once all of them are out, plug up the hole and it is as simple as that.
  • Call a professional pest removal expert to deal with the otters. Otters are considered an endangered species in many parts of the world and you may not even be able to take care of the situation yourself. Professionals can get rid of the otters on your property and relocate them to a safer location where they are not being a nuisance.

More in-detail how-to otter removal articles:

Information about otter trapping - analysis and methods for how to trap.
Information about how to kill a otter - with poison or other methods.
Information about how to keep otters away - prevention techniques.
Information about how to catch a otter - remove one stuck in the house.
Information about otter repellent - analysis of types and effectiveness.

Otter Information & Facts

Otter Appearance: Otters are sleek and streamlined, their bodies created for efficient movement in the water. These semi-aquatic animals can grow to be six feet in length and can weigh as much as one hundred pounds. The short legs of the otter end in webbed feet with sharp claws. Most species boast a long, powerful tail, used for propulsion in the water. Otters are usually brown in color. Their coats are made of two layers. The outer layer insulates the inner layer with a cushion of air, preventing the softer hair from getting wet. This ability keeps the otter’s skin warm and dry while the animal is underwater. Most otters have small ears, small eyes, and large noses. They have a thick padding of fat in the cheek area to prevent serious injury from any of their prey animals.

Otter Habitat and Behavior: Otters are found on almost every continent. The exceptions are Antarctica and Australia. Because of the dependence on water for survival, otters are never found more than a few yards away from their aquatic homes unless they are travelling between areas. Most species of otter live in areas with a current, though a few types live in swamps and marshes.

Otter habitats are often made up of a variety of activity locations. The den itself will have an underwater entrance. The tunnel will then slope upward to a burrow that is above the flood level. This is the area the otter will spend time sleeping and raising young. Other areas in an otter habitat include rolling places or flat areas where the otter grooms itself. Grooming is very important in otter life. The insulating properties of the hair coat are only maintained through rigorous cleaning. Slides are found at various points along the body of water. These quick points of access are usually smooth paths down a muddy slope, though otters will often create slides out of snow during the winter months. Spraint areas are used as bathrooms. Runways are the most common characteristic of an otter home, connecting small or large bodies of water together.

Otters tolerate one another, forming group hierarchies based on the most desirable living areas. These groups are separated by sex, with females and males only seen together for any length of time during the mating season. There is no obvious animosity between groups, and both a male and a female group can occupy the same area. Some otters, such as the River Otter, are mostly solitary.

Otter Diet: Otters live near water because it provides them with everything they need—including food. They are carnivorous, and most species eat a variety of fish, amphibians, shellfish, crabs, and other aquatic creatures. If opportunity presents itself, an otter will eat a rabbit, bird, or rodent that ventures near the water. A large volume of food is needed to keep up the otter’s metabolism. They must eat at least fifteen percent of their body weight daily to maintain the ability to keep warm while in the water for extended periods of time. Prey is usually caught in the otter’s jaws and then held with the front paws for consumption. Some species lay on their backs, using their chests as tables for dissecting food.

Otter Nuisance Concerns: Otters are mischievous by nature and this makes them ingenious when it comes to creating problems in human environments. The most common issues with otters center on specialty facilities being invaded by the hungry mammals. Otters in fish hatcheries, stocked ponds, or private waterways can wreak havoc in a short amount of time. Otter waste can also be an issue around a home or business.

Otter Diseases: Otters are a surprising vector for many animal-to-animal diseases, only a few of which are transmissible to humans. Rabies is very rare in otters, but this disease should be mentioned due to its severity. Like other aquatic animals, otters can spread giardia, the protozoan that causes gastrointestinal upset in humans. Leptospirosis, another disease the can harbor in water, affects kidney function and is often asymptomatic until the disease has progressed beyond redemption. Otters pose a risk to pets by transmitting diseases such as canine distemper, canine parvovirus, and feline rhinotracheitis.

This site is intended to provide otter education and information, so that you can make an informed decision if you need to deal with a otter problem. This site provides many otter control articles and strategies, if you wish to attempt to solve the problem yourself. If you are unable to do so, which is likely with many cases of otter removal, please go to the home page and click the USA map, where I have wildlife removal experts listed in over 500 cites and towns, who can properly help you with your nuisance otter.

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