While stay-at-home orders have prompted lots of people to take up new hobbies, “rock juggling” is old hat for otters. But why? According to researchers at the University of Exeter, hunger seems to be the main driver.
“Surprisingly, very few studies have investigated why otters are so keen to juggle stones,” said Mari-Lisa Allison, lead author of the study published in Royal Society Open Science.
Her team studied two otter species, watching as individuals lay on their backs batting stones in the air, catching them and rolling them around. The behavior doesn’t seem to hone foraging skills, they found, so it may be a reflection of their excitement for food.
“While hunger is likely to drive rock juggling in the moment, the ultimate function of the behavior is still a mystery,” Allison said.
To see the otters in action, watch the video below.