Hungry otter shook stones

British zoologists have found that juggling pebbles among the Eastern of Beschetnyi and smooth-coated otters in captivity can be an indication that the animal wants to eat: most often this behavior was observed a few hours after the individual has eaten. Frequency juggling is not correlated with how successfully otter operated with other facilities, but was associated with age. Perhaps otters juggling pebbles or just waiting for food, or for development, write the scientists in the Royal Society Open Science.

The goal of any animal in its habitat to survive, and this goal should promote everything that surrounds the animal. For example, if variable weather is not suitable for life, habitat changes, and if the production of food requires the ability to handle the tools you need to learn how to use them. Often, however, occasions when the behaviour of any form is not understandable happening like just. This behavior is usually referred to as the game, and often it is typical for young animals and calves, which need to evolve: they can play alone, in group, and also — with any object.

To determine the behavior of the game may not be so simple: in fact, it should be aimless in the framework of the survival, therefore, all possible factors for this need to be restricted. An interesting example of a possible gaming behaviour demonstrate otters. Developed front limbs allow them cleverly to go with a variety of objects, such as stones of different sizes. Some species use them for food, but also outside of it; however, if you can call using pebbles otters playing behavior, at least in part, is unclear.

To learn more about why and how otters use stones out of production of food, scientists led by Marie-Lisa Allison (Mari-Lisa Allison) from Exeter University in the course of a month, watched 44 East beskapotniki otters and smooth-coated otters 6 different ages (from 3 months to 19 years). Scientists have focused on how often otters juggling pebbles: through them in the feet and throw.

Observations have shown that the frequency of juggling does not depend on what species belongs the otter (p = 0,089) — despite the fact that the Eastern Beschetnyi otters often use stones: their diet mainly consists of mollusks and crustaceans, which need to break the shell, while the smooth-coated otters often eat fish. Also, the rate of juggling is not dependent on gender (p = 0,120).

Depended on the frequency of juggling from the age of ten years otters have started to juggle less often as they grow older (p < 0.001), almost juggled in adulthood and began a little more to juggle when I was older (however, statistically the difference was not significant p = 0,634). Frequency juggling correlated with the behavior of the otters: they often could be found with stones in his hands two hours after being fed (p < 0,027).

Next, the researchers decided to follow the if juggling some practical use — and gave the otters three puzzle: the animals have to get food from the jars of medications with screw cap, tennis ball with a hole and two large pieces of LEGO are joined together. It turned out that the frequency of juggling has nothing to do with better or worse otters get food out of the puzzles (p = 0,768), as well as how much time otters will turn the puzzle in his hands, studying her.

Thus, most likely otter juggling stones in the expectation that they will feed, and most of all, according to the authors, their behavior is similar to the so-called “aimless hunt”: this behavior shows the dog that chases its own tail. The dependence of the juggling of age may also be an indication that the stones of the otter plucked for the development and maintenance of motor functions with age. The authors, however, noted that in the future will need to study how the otters are managed with stones in the wild — it will help to clarify the reasons for such behavior.

The use of different tools among animals is not uncommon. To know more about it, you can use our test “Sticks and stones”.

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