Otters as Hunters and Prey
 
Let’s talk a bit about otter as a predator and as prey.


Otters are ferocious and skilled predators. They must eat at least 15% of their body weight daily (up to 25% for mothers who are nursing pups - they can nurse up to 8 hours a day!), so they spend considerable time hunting food.


Underwater, they rely on their whiskers to help them hunt by vibration. They’ve been known to carry a rock in their armpit (in a sort of pouch made from looser skin) so that they can crack open shellfish they’ve caught. When we are in the generating stage, we need to remember to listen for the tiniest vibrations, the gentlest hint that a story has potential. Very few ideas for writing work arrive with fanfare - most develop out of everyday events and thoughts. Another thing to remember is to use your tools. You may find that your brainstorming and idea generation feels different if you do it on your computer versus using pen and paper. You might try doodling and mind mapping instead of using just words. What happens if you use music?


Otters have been recorded successfully hunting large predators like alligators. Yes, otters have been recorded hunting and killing younger alligators. They do so by making sure to avoid the alligator’s bite and then simply letting the alligator exhaust itself (which it does pretty quickly). When exhausted, lactic acid floods the alligator’s muscles, making it very difficult for it to move. This is when the otter drags the alligator ashore, kills and eats it. Yes, otters kill alligators, one of the fiercest water predators, in the water. When you find yourself overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of one of your ideas, when you realize that the idea that you find the most exciting is also the most terrifying because it will force you to grow creatively, remember that you can do it. Otter shows you the way: you ride out your terror, and then you do your work. And you do it literally a bite at a time.


Adult otters are mostly preyed upon by humans. Whales and sharks can also kill an adult, as can an adult alligator. But humans remain the biggest threat to them. Younger otters are also vulnerable to eagles, and there is a special message here for anyone working in the generating stage with otter energy. Eagle is an animal associated with the editing stage - it’s sharp eyes and sharp talons are exactly the energy we need for refining our work into the best it can be. And that sharpness, that intense critical focus, is deadly to young, new projects. For example, let’s say that you are drafting a rough set of beats (a sort of preliminary outline) for a novel. If you use your eagle eyes every step of the way, you will never complete those rough beats. You need imaginative water medicine, not the slicing cold of air medicine. When you find yourself doing this, thank eagle for its excellent vision and ask it to wait for you on the other side of this stage. You will always be able to turn on your inner critic! The trick is to disarm it as kindly and quickly as possible.

National Geographic has some amazing photos of an otter hunting an alligator.