In February, it hit the news. Three otter pups were found abandoned, starving and in need of help in Clearwater. Two were found in a parking lot for an apartment and were unresponsive at first. They were named Audi and Bentley. The third, dubbed Camino was found under a bridge and was shivering from cold.
After being rescued, given food, water and shelter, all three are doing relatively well. Normally, baby otters remain with their mothers for up to a year; however, these three appear to be only three months of age. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium took care of the pups at first and once stabilized, they were sent to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel, Florida. They will undergo 6 to 9 months of rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.
Thanks to Youtube and Facebook, you can see images of these otters eating scrambled eggs and exploring their surroundings. However, they aren’t the only abandoned otters found this year.
In February, two approximately 8 week old baby otters were rescued from a church parking lot in Naples. They have been sent to the Florida Wildlife Sanctuary & Hospital in Melbourne, Florida where they will be exposed to another abandoned baby otter. Since otters are extremely social animals, bringing the three together will be beneficial for all. After rehabilitation, it is hoped these otters, too, can be released back into the wild.
One of the questions people ask is: what should I do if I see a wild animal that needs assistance?
In the case of the otters, it is not usually immediately clear that an otter pup has been abandoned. This is because otter mothers can sometimes leave their pups for awhile in order to find food. The otter is not alone in this habit – other wild animals may leave their babies for a period of time and it is not necessarily cause for alarm.
Otters and other wild animals can carry disease, such as rabies. Plus, there are sometimes regulations regarding human contact with wild animals in order to protect the animals. Birds, bats, alligators and ducks are a few examples of animals under regulation. Handle them wrong or feed them wrong and you could face charges.
For these reasons and others, if you do not have experience with handling wild animals and you see one in distress, it’s best to call for help. The Brevard County Animal Services can be reached at 633-2024 extension 1. The Florida Wildlife and Fish Conservation Commission can be reached at 888-404-3922.
NOTE regarding helping the Otters in Melbourne: If you are interested in helping the local otters and other rescued wildlife, feel free to contact the Florida Wildlife Hospital & Sanctuary at 254-8843. Not only do they accept donations of goods, time and money, they are always in need of volunteers and skilled professionals willing to donate a little bit of time.