ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Florissant has a new resident, and it has a lot of neighbors talking.
The city of Florissant posted photos to Facebook Wednesday of an otter that has made itself at home in Saint Ferdinand Pond, and asked those looking to catch a glimpse to admire from a distance.
The furry mustelid has garnered a lot of attention, with some people wondering where it came from and how it ended up in a St. Louis County pond. But as Dan Zarlenga with the Missouri Department of Conservation explained, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
North American River Otters are common in Missouri and found statewide, Zarlenga said. And while they have the word ‘river’ in their name, they’re also found in lakes, smaller streams and even farm ponds.
"They will basically go wherever they can find food which is often, but not only, fish and crawfish," he said. Other prey of choice include mussels, frogs, turtles, aquatic insects and other small animals.
Otter takes up residence at Saint Ferdinand Pond
As for why it chose Saint Ferdinand Pond?
"Sometimes food can be harder to find in winter, which can cause animals to range farther to find it. This is why we occasionally see wildlife in new places where we might not have before," Zarlenga said.
Although the species is doing well today, a century ago they were almost completely eradicated from Missouri due to pelt overharvest and water quality issues. Thanks to restoration efforts in the '80s and '90s, they have since flourished.
So while Florissant's new otter resident may not be all that uncommon, "it’s still really neat to see nonetheless," Zarlenga said.
For those hoping to catch a glimpse, Florissant and MDC had the same thing to say — admire from a distance so as not to disturb its habitat.