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Otters and things

Went to visit some otters today, at the Tamar Otter Centre.   The main job of this place is taking in young otters that have been orphaned and looking after them until they are old enough to release, so most of the otters we saw were British otters.  Apparently female British otters are terribly fierce, and specialise in beating up all the male otters, even though the males are much bigger.  And orphan baby otters are surprisingly tame and will stay close to their human while they are growing up.  And they hate learning to swim!

I think this was my favorite photo I took of an otter.
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I didn't manage to get even one photo of an otter flinging itself dramatically into the water, although they did that a lot - but at least I caught this one climbing out.
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Otters are hard to photograph, specially in dull weather with a manual focus lens!  I ended up with a lot of splashes and tails.
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One of the non-otter residents - a harvest mouse.  I'd never met a harvest mouse before, they were so tiny!  About the size of the first joint of my finger.
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My favorite of the otters, Carmen.  She is 13 years old! She only arrived at the centre when she was five years old, so she was too old to learn to be a wild otter.  She did a lot of rolling around on her back and also shouted at me impatiently, hoping I might be carrying fish, or possibly peanuts,
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I think this is Carmen as well, unless I've got mixed up.  Her eyes were all grey - presumably from age, although some of the male otters also had grey eyes, because they had been beaten up so badly by female otters.  Otter life is violent and tough!
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Or at least, British Otter life is tough.  They also had a colony of Asian short-clawed otters.  They are much more social,  smaller and I have to admit, kind of cuter.  They made rather adorable peeping noises to demand fish.
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Fallow deer, hiding away in a corner from tourists.  I thought it was a little odd that they had the introduced fallow deer rather than red or roe deer - but perhaps fallow deer are easier to look after.  And they are rather lovely, and look like Rosie Roo with dapples.
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Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
huinare
25th Aug, 2014 00:02 (UTC)
Ooh, otters. Whenever I've seen them at zoos, they've been in constant motion; that you got as many clear photos as you did seems a minor miracle.
bunn
25th Aug, 2014 20:27 (UTC)
I think photographing zooming sighthounds is probably good practice!
lindahoyland
25th Aug, 2014 00:25 (UTC)
They are so cute and there is much I don't know about them. Thanks for sharing.
bunn
25th Aug, 2014 20:29 (UTC)
They are fascinating and adorable! I'm really glad we went to visit them.
wellinghall
25th Aug, 2014 06:23 (UTC)
Otters!!! :-)))
wosny
25th Aug, 2014 06:48 (UTC)
I didn't realise one could visit...I am now wondering if I can get there when I am in Devon next month.
I was surprised when I was listening to Teery Nutkins story of life with Gavin Maxwell, to hear how vicious otters can be!
These are wonderful pictures, thank-you.
philmophlegm
25th Aug, 2014 09:41 (UTC)
It's not far from Devon. A30 west. Come off at Launceston and find the Bude road.
wosny
25th Aug, 2014 11:43 (UTC)
Looking at the map I can't decide whether cross-country via Holsworthy or down to Bude on the A36... English roads, so confusing! :) (I will be in Northam, near Bideford)
bunn
25th Aug, 2014 20:50 (UTC)
Hmm, I'm not sure - I don't know that area too well, we approach from the South!

I'd definitely aim to be there in time for one of the feedings: the Asian otters were out and about the whole time, but the British otters were fast asleep in between feedings.
puddleshark
25th Aug, 2014 09:59 (UTC)
Wonderful pictures! And a very educational post. I had always thought "otters = cute!", but now I know "otters = extreme violence!"

I've never seen an otter. Not even a distant tail disappearing into the water.
bunn
25th Aug, 2014 21:06 (UTC)
I've occasionally seen things that made me think 'was that an otter?' but never anything definite. I feel I have a better idea what to look for now. Apparently they spend a lot of time in trees too, particularly the males, which I had not realised, and therefore had not been looking out for.

Although now I know how ferocious they are, I am not sure that if I spot a suspiciouslooking brown thing in a tree, I'll have the courage to approach!
wellinghall
26th Aug, 2014 09:30 (UTC)
I have never seen wild otters in England; although I have seen them in Shetland, and on Mull.

Our local "tame" otters are at Slimbridge.
bunn
26th Aug, 2014 09:42 (UTC)
They reckoned that the male otters released from the centre would very rarely be seen again, because male otters have such huge territories. The females would sometimes be spotted as their territories are smaller, and also they are sun-worshippers so they tend to go a pale colour that is easy to spot, apparently.


Given that most of the otters there were wild caught and on their way to reintroduction, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by how confident they were: I'd been expecting them to be much shyer...

I think I'd be lucky to spot one here, since the woods are so thick - although I did once meet a lady who had just seen a pair of them playing in the Lynher (we went on to look, but they had gone!)
sally_maria
25th Aug, 2014 13:43 (UTC)
We met Asian otters when we went to the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek a couple of years ago, they really do make the cutest noises. :-)

(Did you see any that looked like Benedict Cumberbatch? http://redscharlach.tumblr.com/post/19565284869/otters-who-look-like-benedict-cumberbatch-a)
bunn
25th Aug, 2014 21:08 (UTC)
Hmmmmm, no, not that I noticed! :-D
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bunn
25th Aug, 2014 21:09 (UTC)
I *think* it may be a male otter on its way to get a bit of fish, looking out warily lest a female otter should intercept and bash it around the ears.
carmarthen
26th Aug, 2014 09:13 (UTC)
Awww otters. You know, the factlet I always remember about Asian short-clawed otters is that they recorded them for the tauntaun noises in Star Wars. :P
bunn
26th Aug, 2014 09:44 (UTC)
The guy doing the talk told us that each Asian short-clawed voice was recognisable and unique, and by judicious administration of fish, he got all of them to be quiet but one, so we could hear the different voices. I must confess they ALL sounded like just cute random squeaks to me!
carmarthen
26th Aug, 2014 12:20 (UTC)
Oh GOSH that sounds ridiculously cute. I suppose one might have to get to know them...
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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