An otter takes some shelter under a car in the Royston area. Screenshot, Kate and Sarah Stromquist video

An otter takes some shelter under a car in the Royston area. Screenshot, Kate and Sarah Stromquist video

Island family surprised to see otter visitor under car

The Stromquists did not expect to see the animal so far from water

The Stromquists are used to animal encounters on their acreage in upper Royston not far from Cumberland. Usually, that means cougars or bears.

What they thought was a house cat under a vehicle on a recent Saturday morning though turned out to be a different visitor.

“I first noticed it around 8:30, but I thought it was a cat, so I ignored it for like half an hour,” says Kate Stromquist.

She finally checked and was surprised to see an otter that seemed equally surprised by her and the family’s dogs.

“The dogs were going pretty crazy,” she said.

She and mom Sarah started taking some video and making calls to see what they could do.

They were surprised because their property is well inland from the ocean. In fact, the closest water is the Trent River and that’s still a couple of kilometres away. They weren’t even sure what the animal was at first.

“I actually thought it was a marten,” Sarah Stromquist said. “We live in a rural area. We’re used to animals.”

They tried contacting a conservation officer on the Saturday morning but had no luck, so they called MARS Wildlife Rescue, which recommended keeping the dogs restrained, then banging on top of the car to flush it out from underneath. Sure enough, the otter scampered off down the road and into the bush.

“We didn’t want it to come barreling out at us. It was kind of scared,” Sarah said. “He didn’t quite know where to go.”

Rachel Nelson, an otter expert with the Vancouver Aquarium, said otters in B.C. break down into two types. Sea otters live in the ocean, only ever coming ashore briefly, such as when they are giving birth. Their back feet are webbed, like flippers, as an adaptation to the marine environment.

River otters can live in freshwater environment and do tend to spend more time on land. They are distinguished by the more typical back legs that would be found on related animals like weasels.

“Their hind legs do have paws,” Nelson said. “They’re actually very adaptable to being on land, being in the water. They usually are around water.”

RELATED STORY: Staff relocating koi away from hungry otter at Vancouver Chinese garden

She recounted the story of a well-known river otter in Vancouver that attracted a social media following a couple of years ago for its excursions to hunt for koi in a pond at a popular public garden in the city.

“If they find a really good food source, they might be sticking around somewhere unusual,” she said.

While otters do not generally pose a danger, Nelson added people should keep a healthy distance, as the animals can become defensive, like many wild creatures, if protecting their young. Most of the time, an otter will simply be passing through an area, but if someone thinks the animal is injured or is regularly showing up at a place it should not, the person can contact a local wildlife association to respond.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Animals

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich health and safety manager named one of Canada’s top 40 women in safety

Canadian Occupational Safety magazine celebrates women leading safety sector in 2021

The City of Victoria hopes to improve its cultural spaces this year and it wants non-profits to help. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Grants up to $125,000 open to Victoria non-profit arts and cultural organizations

Victoria Cultural Infrastructure Grant applications close at the end of May

Colwood city council did a last minute adjustment to this year’s budget, dropping the planned property increase to five per cent. Last year they didn’t increase taxes at all. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood agrees to 5% tax increase for 2021, deferring some expenses to next year

Last-minute changes will save the typical Colwood homeowner $56

Pacific sand dollars are a local species which belong to the same group as sea urchins. While alive, they are covered entirely by thousands of densely packed, short and slender spikes. (Photo courtesy of Louise Page)
The peculiar life of a Pacific sand dollar

UVic biology professor Louise Page offers a glace into sand dollars’ world under the water

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read