many that they pair in the wild state, but it is probable that one male will serve for several females in ranches.
The rapidly rising prices of fisher pelts make the possibility of rearing this valuable fur-bearer the more interesting. A first-class skin can now (1912) be sold for $75 or even $100.
The otter is very easily tamed and may even be given the run of the premises without deserting its owner. The natural method of ranching described for mink, where a whole pond is enclosed and kept stocked with fish, would certainly succeed with otter, especially if arrangements were made to care for the female and the young.
About the time the young are expected, the mother could be caught in a box-trap with a meshed-wire bottom and examined. If she is found to be about to give birth to young, she could be placed in a pen similar to that used for mink, and the young reared successfully. The quiet disposition of the otter and skunk will allow of such treatment. No otter ranches were examined, but the docility and good health of those kept in zoological gardens make it quite evident that it will be `easy to rear them when we only know how'.
Though the otter is found almost everywhere, the Canadian otter is most valuable. Prime skins now (1912) bring up to $30 or even $40. The Fur Trade Review for January, 1913, quotes No. 1 otter from Nova Scotia and Labrador, if of dark colour, at $20 to $25.
A large, easily available supply of fish is necessary for success with these animals if profits are to be made at the above-mentioned prices. As there is undoubtedly a strong demand for live animals for parks and for foundation stock for ranches, the breeding of otter can probably be prosecuted with profit.
The following article on the otter, by Vernon Bailey, was published in the report of the American Breeders' Association, Vol. 5:
THE OTTER AS A FUR BEARER
"Next to silver and blue foxes, otters seem to promise the best results in fur-farming. They combine coats of real and permanent value with habits easily controlled and well adapted to domestication. They have cheerful dispositions, are playful, affectionate, and intelligent, and though in their wild state great wanderers, they are contented and thrive when confined in every limited quarters. Under ordinary conditions they do not breed in captivity, but it is believed that this