On Wednesday 6th January I arrived at Campbell Park Pavilion to be greeted with the news that a RSPCA officer wished to speak to me about an otter that had been picked up in Ouzel Valley Park. ‘Great’, I said, ‘another dead otter – a great start to 2016’. However, for once this was not the case – the creature was very much alive.
A quick conversation with the RSPCA officer, Sam, revealed that the young otter cub had been found by a couple walking along the Ouzel between Walton Hall and Woughton on the Green on the afternoon of Tuesday 5th. The cub had been lying, apparently lifeless, right next to the gravel path. The good Samaritans bundled it up and took it home where they warmed it up in warm towels before Sam came to collect it at 6pm. She then took it directly to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital near Aylesbury where it remains.
When first found the cub, which we now know is female and no more than 5-6 weeks old, was very lethargic and could only produce faint squeeks and slowly open its eyes. It was probably not far from death. Speaking to staff at Tiggywinkles yesterday I was delighted to hear that she is now a bundle of energy, guzzling down milk (still not fully weened) and a real handful! Apparently they very rarely get otters brought to the hospital, certainly not cubs. The youngster has a long road ahead of her before, if ever, she can be released into the wild. Teaching otters to hunt and feed themselves is a major challenge, but at least her chances of survival have sky rocketed.
My guess is that with the heavy rainfall over the first weekend of 2016 and the rapid rise in river levels, the mother otter was forced to move her young from her holt or den and somehow this little one was left behind in the panic. I wonder if she knows how lucky she is!!