Otters mainly eat fish, crustaceans and molluscs – but they are great opportunists. If they were easy to catch – then yes: otters would certainly eat ducks.
How Often Do Otters Eat Ducks?
In general, an otter eats around 80% fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. They also eat other animals including frogs, lizards, snakes, and birds – including ducks.
They aren’t their prime diet – but river otters are opportunists – and they are known for their methodical and unrelenting feeding habits.
They will stay in a habitat until they have eaten everything – then move on to the next. So they can literally eat small lakes completely dry of fish if they stick at it (and the lake is a closed system – like a fishery or small-holding).
There are many stories of otters taking ducks – both wild and domestic – and in the case of the latter – they seem to keep going until they are all gone. Once they have found an easy source of food (trapped on a pond and often with their wings clipped) – they just keep on at it. And who can blame them – especially if they are feeding their young.
Otters are a protected species in most cases (as all but one of the 13 species of otter are in trouble) so there are limits to how they can be controlled in most countries. However, many forums and farmers often employ trappers to catch them as they will literally take any birds they are able to if they are hungry enough.
Do Otters Eat Other Birds?
It isn’t just ducks that otters will attack and eat – there are reports of them attacking even swans. However, mainly they go for smaller waterfowl as they are easier to drag under the water.
They have also been reported climbing fallen trees and eating eggs and chicks in rare cases – so otters may well be able to ‘hunt’ birds other than those in the water. There isn’t a whole amount of examples of this from professionals – and it is often circumstantial (so could have been the results of other animal encounters).
We do know though – that they will certainly take birds on the water if they look like an easy catch. Even our adorable Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) – the ones who float around on their backs hugging their friends. They have been seen eating birds too. Often it is more of a kill and chew – as they often discard the body afterward – clearly only preferring parts of the birds.
What Do Otters Usually Eat?
Otters are mainly found eating any type of fish common to their habitat (or farmed fish for sure). They love snails, crabs, clams, and – in the case of the Sea Otter – urchins too.
Larger otters like the Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) will catch a range of fish including piranha and eels – and smaller otters like the African Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis) often eat frogs and worms – catching them in the water and swimming back to shore to eat them.
The Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis) and North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) are even known to feed on mammals as part of their wide-ranging diet. The latter has often been found feasting on cottontails and snowshoe hares.
Can Otters Climb Trees if They’re Trying to Catch Ducks?
Otter tree climbing capabilities are limited as they are better adapted for aquatic environments. While otters possess dexterity and agility, climbing trees isn’t their primary skill. They are well-suited swimmers, using their webbed feet and streamlined bodies to navigate waterways. When hunting ducks, otters rely on stealth and swimming abilities rather than climbing abilities.
Are Otters Vegetarian?
What they don’t eat – being carnivores – is plant material. Otters do not feed on roots, flowers, or leaves.
Otters are 100% carnivores and belong to the family of animals that contains both felines and canines. As a member of the mustelid family – they also have a set of tools found in all the most effective land predators – sharp canine teeth, claws, agility, and great strength. A mustelid’s jaws are one of the strongest in the animal kingdom – able to sever spinal cords in some instances.
Therefore, not only would they not choose to eat plant matter – they aren’t designed to be able to digest it anyway.
Without impressive molars, a longer gastrointestinal system, or the ability to regurgitate food – they can’t survive. It takes a lot of effort to gain sufficient nutrients out of plant matter. Otters need to eat up to 20% of their body weight in high-protein fish and meats to survive – they just couldn’t eat enough plant material to give them the nutrients they need. There just aren’t enough hours in a day.