There May Be a Reason Why Otters Love to Juggle

Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you’ve ever seen otters before, you know all too well how cute and playful they are. These bundles of furry energy also have an affinity for doing something typically seen in a circus act: juggling.

But what’s the secret behind their obsession with tossing objects up in the air? Well, thanks to research conducted at the University of Exeter, we may finally have an explanation for why otters juggle. Because what may seem like playful fun may actually have a different meaning altogether.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

According to a 2010 study in the journal The Quarterly Review of Biology, play in animals was described as, “repeated, seemingly non-functional behavior differing from adaptive versions structurally, contextually or developmentally, and initiated when the animal is in a relaxed, stimulating or low-stress setting.” Just take a breath as you try to put that into simpler terms.

In the case of otters, they are notorious for juggling rocks. In fact, some otters have been known to save rocks under their arms for their entire lives!

For young otters, juggling can be viewed as a means to develop their manipulation skills. Animals with a high level of intelligence, which most certainly includes otters, have been known to utilize rocks as tools in the wild.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Researchers tried to determine a link between juggling and an otter’s ability to forage through objects to retrieve food.

Senior author Dr Neeltje Boogert said in an emailed statement,

“While it did not appear that frequent jugglers solved food puzzles faster, more research is needed to exclude the ‘practice makes perfect’ hypothesis to explain rock juggling in otters,”

However, research revealed that otters juggled rocks more frequently when they were hungry. Perhaps the forces of hungry make us all do crazy things.

Do you have a unique skill like juggling? Tell us about your talent in the comments below!