2 Lucky North Devon couples have really fallen on their feet, after just taken ownership of a desirable property on the edge of Exmoor national park which features, amongst other things, 3 swimming pools, private sandy beaches an inside jacuzzi … better still it has cost them nothing! Sounds like everyone`s dream come true.
The couples in question, however, are Smooth Coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) from South East Asia and have recently moved into the luxury accommodation at Exmoor Zoo. Listed as vulnerable in the wild numbers have been slowly decreasing due to poaching and hunting for their fur, habitat destruction and the pollution of the wetlands they rely on. Asia’s largest otter, and part of a captive breeding programme it is hoped that their new home will encourage the patter of baby Otter feet. Curator Danny Reynolds said, “The couples have already been the centre of attention for the zoos visitors who have enjoyed watching them playing beach volley ball and water polo with mooring buoys kindly donated by local fisherman. We just hope the weather gets a little warmer and “Otter” soon” he added.
This species of otter is a similar size to our native European otter (Lutra lutra). Unlike our native species which is virtually nocturnal to avoid interaction with us during the day the smooth coated otters are diurnal and play and rest on full view throughout the day when the zoo has visitors. Also, unlike our native otter they enjoy family interaction and social ties and use their family numbers to defend and look after a territory. This is the exact opposite of “Tarka” who rigorously defend their riverbank ownership against all other otters (even immediate family once they have become independent of their mother).