Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. Review our, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, ‘It’s jumping on people and biting them’: Squirrel attack leaves 3 injured at retirement home. Following an encounter naturalists are calling beyond bizarre, Canada’s top medical journal is warning of otter attacks on humans after a Quebec … The sea otter is the largest member of the weasel family, yet the smallest marine mammal in North America. But in the early 1900s populations drastically declined, fallout from extensive trapping, urbanization, and pollution as the industrial age gained steam and humans encroached on otter habitat. The biggest problem with humans and Otters is that it was once big business to sell the pelts from these animals. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. Otters are carnivores, eating mainly fish, crayfish, and frogs. Jack and Marilyn ran to catch a glimpse of the offending creatures. Thank you. When provoked, they'll give brief chase—they can swim seven miles per hour and achieve 18 on land at a full run, webbed toes an all—and if things come to such a pass, they'll snap. The FWC said river otters, which belong to the weasel family, are not typically considered a threat to humans. "They wouldn't go after somebody who wasn't interfering with them," says Stelle. populations of river otter, and otter attacks on humans and their treatment. Human injuries are typically minor like Spector's; in one extreme case, an otter attack victim had to receive nearly 200 stitches, but none of the attacks were fatal. The creatures, which often share aquatic habitats with beavers, enjoy “unpolluted water with a minimal human disturbance,” according to the National Zoo: A North American river otter’s home range can be as large as 30 square miles (78 square kilometers), but a typical territory is 3 to 15 square miles (4.8 to 24 square kilometers). And theirs is a formidable bite, roughly comparable in force to a German shepherd's, which can break hand bones but mostly punctures or bruises skin. Check out our entire suite of free newsletters here. She said that otter attacks involving humans are “extremely rare,” but that when they do occur, there is usually a reason. There are 13 species of otters around the world, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Because they don’t have blubber, sea otters eat constantly to make up for the … The giant otter subsists almost exclusively on a diet of fish, particularly characins and catfish, but may also eat crabs, turtles, snakes and small caiman. But they're extremely territorial. Usually otters do not attack people unless it is a mother protecting her babies, or the animal has rabies, but it is unclear why in the video the otter came after the person filming, who ran away screaming. A rabid otter would certainly attack humans, because the virus causes the infected animal to act aggressively, usually by biting. Otters boast a sharp set of canines and crushing molars. However, they can bite and they can fight with their tails so … They'd much prefer to avoid conflict with our ilk. Most sea otters call Alaska home. The otter's is a tired, old story: once it was abundant throughout most of North America, from Mexico to as far north as the Arctic Circle, spread from sea to sea. In light of recent otter attacks in Florida, we reviewed all evidence of otter attacks on humans for any geographical and temporal relationships from the earliest (1875) to the most recent (Dec 2010). Otters had crept up into their backyard, and attacked Bucky, the couple’s 13-year-old Pappion. There are 13 identified species of Otters known. “When you’re [in the middle of] it you don’t have a lot of thought except you hope you survive.”, Spector and her husband climbed on their guide’s kayak and began paddling “as fast as we could,” she told the Times. In addition, bones, fur or other samples collected from infected animals as souvenirs can transmit this fungus to humans. “An unprovoked attack is very un-otter-like, unless there’s a cause you can’t see,” Duplaix, who teaches conservation biology at Oregon State University, said Thursday in a phone interview with The Washington Post. "They are also apex predators which can make a meal out of alligators," says Dr. Daniel Allen, animal geographer and author of Otter. Nicole Duplaix, who chairs the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Otter Specialist Group, said otters are known for being friendly animals, but, like most other creatures, keep their distance from humans. Then they flee. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement earlier this week that the agency’s law enforcement officers were searching for an “aggressive otter” after four kayakers were injured in separate attacks Saturday and Sunday on the Braden River in Manatee County. Sue Spector was kayaking with her husband down the pristine Braden River in western Florida when she spotted an otter. An ‘unusually aggressive’ Brooklyn squirrel that attacked five people may have rabies. Still threatened, otters have rebounded somewhat since the Department of Natural Resources reintroduced them across the U.S. during the past 30 years. One of 13 subspecies of otter, the North American river otter is found from They tend to leave humans alone so they aren’t a threat if you happen to come upon one. Humans aren't on the menu. Photo by Bob Winfree, National Park Service. They like attention but do not like to ‘play’ with humans, in the way humans like to interact with pets. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. The animal, usually known for its curiosity and playful demeanor, leaped onto the kayak and lunged at Spector. In the United States, there are sea otters and the North American river otters, or Canadian otters. The odd crocodilian meal is the result of sheer tenacity in which the otter … Humans aren't on the menu. There is evidence that river otters’ play activities strengthen social bonds, improve hunting techniques and scent mark territories. They are cute and fun to watch. The odd crocodilian meal is the result of sheer tenacity in which the otter wears down the gator during an hours-long struggle. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. They also endanger residents by attracting coyotes and bobcats to yards, creating territory struggles that make properties unsafe. To my surprise, I found that otters do attack people. Animal control officials are warning people to stay away from the otters. Key words: attack, rabies, mustelidae, river otter, Lontra canadensis, human interactions Introduction Otters are an aquatic carnivore found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. They tend to leave humans alone so they aren't a threat if you happen to come upon one. Witnesses also suggested that the creature may have been hunted by an alligator. Now when I see an otter, I have more respect. The agency said that within the past year, there have not been any other reports of otter attacks in Manatee County, but it urged people to “reduce encounters with otters and other wildlife by maintaining your distance and not approaching otters or other wildlife, not feeding otters or other wildlife, and keeping pets leashed and supervised.”. Here’s why. When otters are present around lakes and ponds, their fecal matter accumulates up to 20 yards from shorelines. It was fast and easy to kill them, skin them, and make a pocket full of money. Because of the activity in the sea will never ends because many people rely their life on it … They’re messy eaters. [‘It’s jumping on people and biting them’: Squirrel attack leaves 3 injured at retirement home]. Immediate medical help is needed for any scratches or bites. Duplaix, with the Otter Specialist Group, an organization responsible for the global conservation of otters, said that “even a cornered rat can do a lot of damage” and that otters are no exception. River otters, which weigh between 10 and 33 pounds, have long slender bodies, short legs and webbed toes, according to a fact sheet from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. In the Florida case, wildlife authorities said witnesses reported that the otter had been chasing boats. She said that otter attacks involving humans are “extremely rare” but that when they do occur, there is usually a reason. Luckily, it doesn't occur often. "Otters are very hard to see in the wild in most areas and try to avoid human presence," says Lei Lani Stelle, a biology professor and otter researcher at California's University of Redlands. “I tried to get him off of my kayak, and I screamed extremely loud so I could try and scare him off, but that didn’t work. Such a concentrated attack on a human is without precedent in the wild. Quite possibly. But they’re probably more likely to bite unfamiliar people, like visitors! An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Do they bite their owners? The FWC warned that those who are bitten or scratched by wild animals should seek medical attention because they can carry rabies, a potentially deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system. Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today. Additional Damage. The attacks are vicious; however no one has died from an otter attack. She said that otter attacks involving humans are "extremely rare" but that when they do occur, there is usually a reason. A four-foot river otter attacked an 8-year-old boy and his grandmother swimming in a Washington state river, nearly costing the boy his life. Extreme adventure: 1950s film shows beavers parachuting into Idaho backcountry. When traveling on land, river otters walk, run, or bound. So don't worry. "Do not expect a waterside encounter with a placid, cuddly creature.". The only known fatalities occurred in captivity when otters killed intruders to protect their cubs. Otters can transmit rabies to humans and pets. 3. Most people find the Otter to be a friendly looking creature. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Otters have been known to attack humans, and females with young are unpredictable. At 5.6 feet (1.7 meters), they are the biggest otters in the world and the longest members of the weasel family. She said that otter attacks involving humans are “extremely rare,” but that when they do occur, there is usually a reason. They are also downright scary-looking. “For an otter to come toward you is really exceptional,” she said. Oil spills. Keep your respectful distance and, for the foreseeable evolutionary future, you won't be otter food. Lei Lani Stelle, a biology professor and otter researcher at California's University of Redlands, 2011 Oceanographic Environmental Research Society study, Dr. Daniel Allen, animal geographer and author of, our entire suite of free newsletters here. It was the second attack in a month. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Bounding is their fastest gait. Find more newsletters on our newsletter sign-up page. For this reason, petting and handling are ill-advised. The co-expansion of otter and human populations accounts for most encounters gone wrong. An animal expert said the attacks could be due to pressures on otter … Otters are carnivores, eating mainly fish, crayfish, and frogs. Spector is recovering well. "That is a common thing with all wildlife," Richardson said. Freezing the infected otter or its tissues will not kill the fungus, even in -80°C. In South America, the giant otter resides among hundreds of hungry caimans (a type of crocodilian related to alligators) without any issue. Duplaix advises people to watch otters only from a distance, taking care not approach their cubs or their dens. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, General assignment reporter covering national and breaking news, Share your feedback by emailing the author. “I took my paddle, and I tried to get him off of me, and he wouldn’t let go, and I kept screaming, I kept beating him with a paddle,” Spector told Fox affiliate WTVT. Trails and Tracks. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. They spend a significant portion of the day scent marking territory by urinating, defecating, scratching and rubbing their scent glands on rocks and trees. A river otter at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, gets some snow on … Subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest outdoor news. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google, Thanks for signing up! Most people find the Otter to be a friendly looking creature. “The otter followed us but didn’t attack again.”. Have a question about our comment policies? To inspire active participation in the world outside through award-winning coverage of the sports, people, places, adventure, discoveries, health and fitness, gear and apparel, trends and events that make up an active lifestyle. Though their tendency when confronted is to dive and flee, otters can be aggressive when defending their young or a food source from a perceived threat. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is a shy, if playful, weasel topping out at 30 pounds and five feet from head to tail. A 2011 Oceanographic Environmental Research Society study of otter attacks found only 39 documented violent confrontations dating back to 1875. It took some time, but I fought with him, my husband jumped in, and other people came by to help.”. Officials say that if the otter is found, it will be tested for rabies. Normally, otters do not attack other animals. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Often times when they have small one's around, but sometimes for no known reason. A sea otter snoozes on its back -- showing its hind legs, tail and webbed feet, which make otters great swimmers. Their long, agile bodies enable them to quickly twist, turn, roll and dive, and they are frequently seen sliding or burrowing in the mud or snow. Figure 2: Drawing Credit - WDF&W. Spector could not immediately be reached for comment. But otters have a dark side. “One … That home range shrinks drastically during breeding and rearing season. Spector, 77, from Sarasota, turned around in her boat early Sunday morning and, catching a glimpse of the small river dweller, thought to herself, “Oh, this is a cute otter,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. "They usually detect us before we detect them.". Yet even bites are rare. Most occurred in the past 20 years—nearly half of them in Florida—and about a third of the culprits were rabid. Despite the attack, Richardson said the otter isn't in danger of being tranquilized or moved because it was exhibiting normal behavior. Subscribe to our What You Missed newsletter for the top headlines from the outdoor world, in your inbox six days a week. Since Otters don’t pose a threat to humans there is no reason for such destruction to continue. While river otters tend to live alone or in pairs, they often socialize in groups and are known for their playful behavior. Half a dozen attacks have been reported since. And they have good cause to. Depending on the state of the infection, the spores of “Cocci” can also be aerosolized and inhaled by humans. Check this one out: Giant otter with fish. Experts found the question a strange one. Otters are restless and do not like to be restrained or restricted. It has no serious natural predators other than humans, although it must compete with other species, including the neotropical otter and caiman species, for … Find more newsletters on our. The couple was thrown into the water — half-swimming, half-flailing their paddles to try to fend off the animal. Another Minnesota woman was attacked by an otter while swimming last weekend. Spector, who suffered injuries to her arm, nose and ear during the weekend otter attack, has been treated for rabies as a precaution, according to the Tampa Bay Times. What is an otter? Otters rarely attack humans, but can sometimes be territorial, especially when they are protecting their babies. She said that in instances in which otters have attacked, people had gotten too close to mothers with cubs or to their dens. They just like to have fun and catch fish and to stay away from potentially dangerous situations. You are now subscribed to What You Missed However, they can bite and they can fight with their tails so if you are provoking an attack then you have been warned. Looking for something else? “Then we had this little tug of war,” she told the Tampa Bay Times. The fact is, otters don't want to have anything to do with you. Otters rarely attack humans, but can be territorial (LA Times via Getty Images) A family of otters attacked two teenage boys who were swimming in Shasta Lake, California, on Sunday morning. We hope you’ll support us. From the otters are sea otters and the Google, Thanks for signing!! '' but that when they are protecting their babies by Post editors and delivered every morning to kill,. Suite of free newsletters here especially when they do occur, there is usually a reason they the! Inbox six days a week and are known for their playful behavior Resources reintroduced them across the during. You make the most of it the most of it, petting and handling are ill-advised years. Otter attack humans and otters is that it was once big business to sell the pelts from these.. This little tug of war, ” she told the Tampa Bay times land, river tend! 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