These beauties might look all sweet and innocent but I can assure you that they can really pack a punch! The rest of our otter group, consists of 2 females and 5 males from previous litters. These guys will help out with rearing our young pups, and its a great learning experience for them in later life, when they go off and have families of their own.

Our otters are born

When first-born, the youngsters are white (later turning to brown with a pale underside) and with their eyes closed. They’re born in an artificial holt here at Newquay Zoo, after a gestation of around 60 to 64 days. The right hand side of the holt is shut off from public viewing allowing Jam (mum), to have some privacy when she is due to give birth. When she was pregnant, at around 45 days she looked like she has swallowed a small football! We closed the public viewing off around two weeks before she was due to pop, to make her feel as comfortable as possible. During Jam’s pregnancy we also increased her diet, as the young inside her take a lot of energy to grow!

During the pregnancy, and particularly when our otters are due to give birth, it is very important we do not disturb them. When the pups are born you can hear some little squeaks coming from the nest box. Our pups are pretty helpless when they are born and for a little while after, they don’t even open their eyes till around 40 days! They can usually roll around a bit, and move towards Jam when it’s time to feed from her, but they can’t go exploring for themselves just yet. During this time, the otter’s holt isn’t touched by any of us. We offer fresh bedding outside daily, so they can keep their house clean themselves, but, it’s still pretty stinky by the time it comes to cleaning them out! I drew the short straw on that job last time…

At 6 weeks old…

At 6 weeks old our young pups were sexed and microchipped! This is where a microchip (very similar to the ones your pet cat and dogs are microchipped with) is placed under the skin, in between the shoulder blades (interscapular). This can then be read using a chip reader. ‘ID-ing’ the individuals makes things a lot easier, as they can look quite similar when they grow up. The microchip number then gets added to their records at the Zoo. At the same time we also sexed the pups, (checking whether they are males or females), this is quite easy with this species as the distance between the bum and bits is very short in girls and about an inch difference between the boys. During the sexing, we found out the current litter consists of three males and one female. To do all of this we lock the adults out of the nest boxes for a short period of time, and handle the young wearing latex gloves as to not put our scent on them. At this stage they’re not overly ‘bite-y’ (give it a couple of months!) After this, we put the young back into the nest box and let the adults back in.

Quotes Throughly enjoyed our visit to Newquay zoo, there was plenty to see! Quotes