How to Get Rid of Otters? (5 Removal Ways and Identifying Signs)

How to Get Rid of Otters

The best way to get rid of otters is by trapping them. Simply blocking the otters’ access to their food source or burrows will usually take care of the problem. This can be done by building a steel fence to keep them out of areas where they are not wanted, or, in places with fish ponds, simply installing surface fencing to protect the fish.

Otters are very smart creatures that will see right through any decoys and repellents that you lay out for them. This is why a good understanding of an otter’s habits will go a long way in helping you determine how best to get rid of them.

Trapping Otters for Removal

Safe and humane trapping offers perhaps the most reliable method for evicting nuisance otters from your property. In some states, licensed wildlife control operators are allowed to trap and relocate nuisance otters safely, ensuring no harm to the animals.

How Trapping Works?

Experts utilize box traps or cage traps designed specifically to capture otters alive and uninjured:

  • Box traps are metal cages with spring-loaded doors, which are triggered when otters take the bait inside and include air holes for safety.
  • Cage traps are collapsible, mesh-wire framed cages that close when an otter enters the central compartment to get food, and they are easy to move and transport.

Choose locations that otters frequently visit for trapping. Prime areas include trail sides, shorelines, feeding sites, and burrow entrances.

Tips for Successful Trapping

Follow these guidelines for best results:

  • Use strong smelly bait – crayfish/fish heads or guts ideally.
  • Fasten traps firmly to prevent tipping or dragging.
  • Check traps very frequently – at least twice per day.
  • Cover traps partly with brush and vegetation to feel hidden.

Always wear thick gloves when handling trapped otters, as their bites can transmit rabies or cause injury.

Relocation Requirements

Check your state’s regulations, as licensed wildlife agents in many areas must:

  • Obtain the necessary permits and have valid insurance paperwork.
  • Relocate the otter more than 50 miles away from the capture site.
  • Ensure the release is in a suitable habitat for otters.
  • Report the age, gender, and weight of the otter for wildlife tracking purposes.

Using Fencing to Remove Otters

The most impenetrable otter barriers utilize tightly woven wire or electrified strands:

Woven Wire Fencing

  • Use tight mesh patterns with a maximum spacing of 2 inches between wires.
  • Ensure a minimum height of 5 feet with an outward-angled overhang of 6 to 12 inches.
  • Bury the lower portion of the fence at least 12 inches underground.

Pros – Sturdy and reinforced; provides a solid physical barrier.

Cons – More expensive; requires extensive digging.

Electric Fencing

  • Strands of conductive metal or woven wire carry an electric charge.
  • 5,000-7,000 volt output provides startling but harmless shock.

Pros – Less costly; easy to install and maintain.

Cons – Electricity failure renders useless; regular vegetation trimming is needed.

Construction Guidelines

Follow these tips for properly installing otter-proof fencing:

  • Clear the area of brush and debris to eliminate climbing aids or hiding spots for otters.
  • Ensure the fencing has a smooth vertical surface without footholds.
  • Bury the lower portion of the fence at least 12 inches deep and angle it outward underground.
  • Along the interior perimeter, use large rocks, gravel, concrete, or a wire mesh apron.
  • Install an outward-angled overhang at the top to prevent otters from climbing over.
  • Use galvanized or vinyl-coated wire to prevent rust.
  • For electric fences, regularly clip nearby vegetation and check the charge weekly.
  • In remote areas without electricity, install a combination of solar panels and batteries.

Using Repellents to Remove Otters

Applying pungent or unpleasant smells around your property can effectively repel otters and chase them away for good. Their keen noses are highly sensitive, so overwhelming scents force them to retreat.

Strong Odor Repellents

Here are some common smelly substances effective in deterring otters:

  • Predator urine, such as from foxes, coyotes, or bobcats, triggers innate fear reactions in otters.
  • Ammonia-based repellents, with their harsh cleansing smells, effectively bother otters. Household ammonia can be used.
  • Peppermint oils, with their strong minty odor, overwhelm otters’ nasal passages.
  • Methyl nonyl ketone is a chemical specifically formulated to repel otters.

Use spray bottles to apply these repellents in areas such as otter trails, slides, dens, along shorelines and pond banks, and in gardens and flower beds.

Reapply after heavy rains wash away.

Irritant Repellents

Caution: Avoid using these repellents where children or pets can access them.

  • Capsaicin oils – Active chemical in chili peppers; causes skin irritation.
  • Mustard oils – Allyl isothiocyanate causes tissue inflammation.
  • Ammonia salts – Irritating vapors emit from urine/manure when applied.

Use mineral oil as a carrier and either spray or sprinkle it around dens, trails, gardens, and fish ponds. Reapply after storms or snowmelt.

Homemade Organic Repellent Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups hot chili peppers, chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp dish soap

Instructions:

  • Blend chili peppers, garlic, and 2 cups water in a blender until smooth.
  • Let the mixture steep overnight and afterward, strain out the solids.
  • Combine the strained liquid with dish soap, then add enough water to make the total solution equal to 1 gallon.
  • Use a garden sprayer to apply liberally around areas frequented by otters.

Using Noise Deterrents to Remove Otters

Otters have superb hearing suited for detecting prey and predators in aquatic environments. Loud and sudden noises can easily startle otters, disrupting their feeling of safety. Employing noisemakers can effectively scare off otters from your property.

Noise Deterrent Devices

Here are some acoustic tools to annoy otters away:

  • Motion-activated alarms – Emits loud, high-pitched shrill when sensors detect movement.
  • Ultrasonic devices – Blasts high-frequency sounds inaudible to humans but intolerable to otters.
  • Radios – Tune to all-talk AM stations; place waterproof speakers along trails.
  • Propane cannons – Fires loud explosive blasts at random intervals from fuel combustion.
  • Shell crackers – Launchers detonate whistling firecracker shells over areas otters frequent.

Position these devices surrounding ponds, gardens, fish hatcheries, or other sites prone to otter traffic. The random startling noises will convince them to abandon the area for good.

Tips for Effectiveness

Follow these guidelines to get the most deterrence from your noisemakers:

  • Place on sturdy platforms above ground to widen sound dispersion
  • Angle devices to ensure overlapping coverage
  • Use multiple units to create a cacophony of sound
  • Modify timing to play sporadically and unpredictably
  • Combine with strobe lights for added disturbance

Beware – constant noise may backfire and cause otters to habituate. Adjust sound sensitivity and randomness to prevent this.

Hiring a Professional Wildlife Control Operator

If you continue to face otter problems on your property, seeking help from trained professionals is the best solution. Licensed wildlife control experts employ proven methods to safely and humanely remove otters at reasonable costs.

Services Offered

Reputable wildlife removal companies offer a full spectrum of otter control services:

  • Property assessment
  • Identification of entry points/den sites
  • Exclusion barrier installation
  • Removal and trapping
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Follow-up monitoring

They handle the entire process so you don’t have to.

What to Look For

Seeking a qualified professional? Here are important credentials to check:

  • Licensed in your state for trapping/transporting otters
  • Insured for personal/property protection
  • Experienced with multiple otter evictions
  • Uses humane methods – no poisons/lethal means
  • Offers guarantees if otters return

View online reviews and credentials before hiring. Avoid companies offering illegal or unethical removal practices.

Costs

Professional wildlife control costs $100-$500 on average depending on:

  • Extensiveness of property
  • Accessibility of otter denning sites
  • Scope of exclusion solutions needed
  • Duration of seasonal maintenance required

Getting upfront quotes allows you to budget accordingly.

Important: Do NOT pay full fees until complete eradication is confirmed after the follow-up monitoring period!

Reasons to Remove Otters

Otters can cause various issues if they take up residence on your property.

Damage to Property

Otters are very active animals and can cause extensive damage as they go about their daily activities. Some problems they can create include:

  • Burrowing and denning – Otters create burrows and dens for resting and raising their young. These structures can weaken foundations, lead to erosion, or collapse, posing safety risks.
  • Chewing and clawing – Otters often gnaw and claw materials like wood, wiring, and insulation, damaging infrastructure and resulting in expensive repairs.
  • Digging up lawns and gardens – To forage for prey or create latrines, otters churn up grass, plants, and flower beds, leaving unsightly muddy patches behind.

Concern for Pets or Livestock

Otters can threaten domesticated animals in certain situations:

  • Predation – Otters, being opportunistic hunters, might prey on backyard poultry, small pets, and livestock, including cats and small dogs.
  • Competition – Otters, as carnivores, compete with native predators for food, potentially displacing these species.
  • Disease transmission – Otters may carry and transmit diseases like Leptospirosis, posing a risk of infection to pets and livestock.

Safety Concerns

On rare occasions, otters may jeopardize human health and safety:

  • Bites and scratches – Otters, similar to other wild animals, may bite when threatened, cornered, or protecting their young, and their sharp teeth and claws can inflict severe wounds.
  • Pathogen transmission – Diseases like rabies or Leptospirosis can pass from otters to humans through close contact.
  • Aggressive behavior -While otters typically avoid humans, those who have become used to being fed by people can exhibit demanding or territorial behavior.

Identifying Signs of Otter Presence on Your Property

Determining if otters are actively using your property is an important first step before removing them. Otters leave behind various signs that betray their presence:

Trails and Slides

Otters create a network of trails along riverbanks, lake shores, and pond edges during their coastal hunting activities. These trails become particularly visible in snow and mud. Also, look for:

  • Look for slides, where otters slide down muddy or snowy slopes for fun. These debris chutes or tracks are clear indicators of otter activity.
  • Prints – An otter’s five-toed paw print is distinctive, featuring visible claw marks and webbing between the digits. Clearly defined prints indicate frequent otter travel.

Damaged Vegetation

As otters run, slide, roll, and ramble near waterways, they trample aquatic plants and ground cover:

  • You may see flattened reeds and grasses, indicative of low-growing vegetation being torn up or beaten down as otters move through the area.
  • Look for tunnels through the brush, where otters have created clear pathways to their feeding spots. These paths often show crushed and smashed brush and branches from their passage.

Burrows and Dens

To sleep, rest, breed, or birth young, otters need sheltered structures:

  • Burrow holes, with entrances 10-30 cm wide, are often dug into creek or pond banks, or under tree root systems.
  • Flattened areas in vegetation, particularly amidst reedy or brushy areas, indicate otter sleeping spots, often marked by flattened grasses.
  • Discarded items like crayfish parts, crab shells, or frog bones, often referred to as ‘cub toys,’ signify the presence of a family den.

Alert: Be careful not to disturb dens – otter mothers will aggressively defend their pups!

Missing or Dead Fish

As voracious predators, otters cause declines in ponds/coasts where they hunt:

  • Fewer fish – Rapid depletion of stocked or wild fish populations.
  • Carcasses – Otters tend to only eat the heads of larger fish, leaving behind bodies.
  • Parts and bones – Half-eaten crayfish, crabs, frogs,and other prey remains scattered about.

Can You Kill an Otter in Florida?

Otters are protected animals in Florida. However, in some cases, for example if they destroy property, they can be killed.

Otter attacks in general are very rare. This is because otters are not usually aggressive, and being very shy animals, they usually prefer to flee as opposed to fighting when confronted.

Although otter attacks are highly unusual in Florida, they do occur once in a while. In most cases, the otter would be a female trying to protect her llitter, or a rabid otter that needs to be put down.

Are Otters Poisonous?

The platypus, solenodon, shrew, vampire bat, mole, hedgehog, and the African crested rat are the only venomous mammals in the world today. Otters are definitely not part of that list. However, although they are cute and playful, otters can also be aggressive and dangerous when they have to be.

Otters can also contract rabies, although this is extremely rare. They are less likely to contract rabies than dogs, cats, skunks, and raccoons. However, when they do have rabies, they will become extremely aggressive and attack humans, other otters, and other animals and therefore need to be put down.

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