Baby Otter Loves Snuggling With Stuffed Animals — Then Drowning Them
River otters aren't generally this good-natured. In fact, they are notorious jerks.
In her 35 years of working with wildlife, Kris Porter - a licensed rehabilitator with Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, a nonprofit near Tampa, Florida - has never met an otter who's even come close to being as sweet as this young pup.
"They want to kill you," Porter told The Dodo. "They'd be tearing my hand up."
Not this 5-week-old angel. This one wants Porter to give her belly rubs. All the time.
The otter, who hasn't yet been named, was found earlier this week, alone and crying by the side of a busy road.
Porter agreed to take her in, understanding that a young animal like this one would need lots of bottle feeding and care. What she didn't realize, however, was that this otter might also want to be constantly petted and played with. (Given her personality, and being isolated from other otters, it would be cruel to deny the animal this comfort, Porter explained.)
Or that she'd go through stuffed toys - like a plush otter lookalike - by the dozen, first snuggling, then drowning them, one at a time, in her big water bowl.
This stuffed piggy was donated by Emma, an animal-loving youngster who lives near Owl's Nest.Arin Greenwood
Porter was involved with rehabbing more than 1,000 injured, sick and orphaned wild animals in the last year alone, including bald eagles, hawks, owls and over 100 baby squirrels.
There have been foxes and songbirds and possums and tortoises and all kinds of wonderful animals, whose wings or jaws or legs were broken, and needed some TLC - or perhaps a frozen rat or two - on the way to getting well.
And with each of them, Porter said, no matter how attached she's gotten, her greatest satisfaction comes when they are well enough to return to the wild.
That's what Porter hopes for, eventually, for this girl, too.
Babies like bottlesArin Greenwood
Judging by her temperament, it's possible the otter had previously been living inside someone's home, and had thereby become socialized to humans.
Or maybe she's just a unicorn - that one-of-a-kind otter who was simply born with a sweet disposition.
And if this otter is indeed just simply nice, either from nature or nurture, then she won't be released back in the wild - liking humans that much would make living without them too dangerous for her.
In that case, she'll be donated to an aquarium or wildlife center, and become a species ambassador. Then, she'll finally get a name.
Owl's Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife
Porter has a better solution in mind.
There is no shortage of otters needing to be rehabilitated. So Owl's Nest will likely soon take in another otter - who can then perhaps teach this loving otter how to be less congenial with people. How to be mean.
How to be an otter.
"Try to get the niceness out of her," said Porter. "Hopefully, she'll resort to being witchy."
Potter had a promising prospect today - an otter who was found in the area, near-death, after being stabbed.
But this otter's injuries were too severe. He was paralyzed, and had abdominal bleeding; Porter and a veterinarian agreed it was more humane for the otter to be euthanized.
That's the devastating side of working in this field.
The easier part is the belly rubs - and the hopeful prospect that this otter may one day stop wanting them.
Really, don't try petting an otter - you'll run afowl of the law, and probably also get seriously hurt.