Hey world. I'm playing blog catch-up as I've been rather busy recently (with things I will be blogging about as well as a 'secret' project which will be unveiled in the future). So first things first - otters!!! Yeah it's not crochet or crafts but y'all know how I love otters so! A couple of weekends ago me and the lovely wife took a trip down to Devon, and this place was the main reason we went.
The Otter & Butterfly Sanctuary in Buckfastleigh has been somewhere we've wanted to go for a while. In fact, the lovely wife went there with her family as a child and it seems it's a pretty well known tourist attraction in those parts.
Now as the name suggests, there are butterflies too. You have to walk through the butterfly enclosure to get to the otters, and it doesn't disappoint. Once you've wiped the steam off your glasses (it's pretty warm in there) there's loads of different super colourful butterflies to see.
I particularly liked this one, as it's one of the clearest examples of their wings looking like a predators eyes that I've ever seen in person.
I've never been to a proper butterfly house/enclosure before but it is amazing, I can see how you could easily lose hours in there just watching them fly about. As well as a wealth of information available (the chrysalis displays were especially cool), I also noticed the floor was moving.....veeerrry veerry slowly.
These terrapins were everywhere in the butterfly house. It seemed the more you looked the more of them you'd see. There was also loads of massive koi and an iguana hidden away in there too (well hidden in plain sight). So yeah, lovely as that was, I'm there for one reason and one reason only....bring on the otters!!!
Well, I wanted otters, and otters I got. They have three different breeds of otters, and each of them had their own unique characters. I'm having to recall a lot of this from memory so if I make any otter errors please forgive me.
This pair of North American otters were massive. They were total show-offs when it came to feeding time (11:30am, 2pm & 4pm), but acted like moody teenagers the rest of the time. You wouldn't want to cuddle these guys, they looked like they could bite your face off.
But they were pretty funny to watch, especially when they were standing up to get their fish off the otter keeper. This pair would play up and take all the fish they could, but the keeper explained that even if they're not hungry, they will take food and stash it away for later (a bit like me with wool).
I think what was most interesting part about watching the larger otters was seeing how powerful yet gentle they can be. When we got there two of them were having a 'play fight', which looked gnarly as hell - but within five minutes they'd settled it and were cuddling together in their holt (which you could see through glass and mirrors).
As well as the North American otters, they did have a fair few British Otters, but as they're naturally nocturnal and very shy creatures I didn't get the chance to get many good photo's of them - but I did get this picture of one swimming in the tanks that have glass sides so you can see through.
But, being totally honest, this pair - this pair of little cuties, well, I couldn't keep my eyes off them!!!
This was a pair of Asian Short Clawed Otters. Although they look like baby otters both of these are pretty much fully grown, Asian short claws are the smallest breed of otter.
Around all of the Otter enclosures there were steps you could stand on to get a better view. This pair of pranksters kept running to the side of the enclosure whenever anyone went near, and after a while I worked out what they were up to - there was a gap under the steps they could see through! The otters were watching the people watching the otters!!!
Also, Asian Short Clawed Otters are one of the breeds that pair and mate for life, but this pair have an extra twist to their tale. One of them is a mother otter, who lost her mate and baby otter (pup). When she was brought to the sanctuary, they also had a pup that had just lost it's mother too. They tried putting them together and it was successful, So what we have here is a strong single surrogate mother - 'all the single otters, all the single otters - if you like it then you should have gave some eels to it'.....and so on (sorry).
The otter keeper was very knowledgeable and gave many insights into the personalities of each of the otters, explaining much of their behaviours and where they came from. Most of the otters they have there come from two main places - they are either rescued when their habitat has been destroyed (he cited examples of local flooding destroying areas where otters lived and hunted meaning they would have dies if not rescued), or they come from other sanctuary's or zoo's as part of breeding exchanges or when the otters start getting old.
So yeah if you're after a great day out in the Devon area, you can't go wrong by visiting this place (there's also the South Devon Steam Train ride right next to the sanctuary - if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat). They rely entirely on public donations and do some incredibly important work (as well as educating people on the awesomeness of otters) - SO GO THERE NOW!!!
And as if you need more, here's why I love otters so much. Not only are they, you know, generally awesome and hands down one of the best mammals on this planet, but they're also a massive success story. British otters were on the brink of extinction in the 80's, mostly because of pollution and pesticides being dumped into the water. Through a Biodiversity Action Plan the quality of British waterways and rivers has vastly improved over the past few decades, meaning otters are back on the up (I even got to see one in the wild this summer).
I hope you've enjoyed this, and if you're not an otter fan - well tough!
peace out y'all