Trench in the Snow: A Mystery

On my daily hike, I came upon a track in the snow I had never seen before.  It was more like a trench than a track and gave me pause.  Could there be an anaconda slithering about in winter?  Or some scary beast dragging home its kill.

Places where the creature stopped sliding on its belly and took a leap.


The track came from the far frozen beaver pond, across the pasture, through the fence and across the road.  Bravely, I followed it right to the edge of the escarpment where, without hesitation, it plunged straight down the precipitous slope.  If I went any further, it would be a high speed luge ride interrupted by several tree trunks all the way down to the marsh.

There was nothing for it but to consult my nearest nature guru who looked at my photo and laughed.  It is an otter, he told me. They slide on their bellies in the snow. They are pretty fast sliders.  Hence the trench.

Otter enjoying the snow. Photo from Wikipedia.


That was a relief.  Now I must speculate that the otter had been spending its winter in the beaver pond and decided on a change of scene.  Perhaps it had eaten all the fish under the ice and was moving on to better hunting in the marsh.  Perhaps it had to leave home because mama was about to produce a new family of kits and kicked it out.  Since otters like to be social, it might be hoping it could find some new pals down among the reeds.

I’ll keep watch for it when I cross the little bridge over the marsh creek and also see whether it left any relatives behind at the beaver pond. And I wonder what kind of truce they have with the beavers and muskrats there.


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