Wednesday, 22 October 2014



It has been over a year since Otto's last blog update. It has been a great year for him. He is now a real Otter! and has left home! . His visits have been getting less frequent and the longest time away (until now) has been about 1 week. The last time I saw him was about 4 weeks ago, so I reckon he may have found his independence.

Many interesting things have happened for Otto in the last year. A near death experience with a passing car, being chased by a big territorial Dog Otter, receiving battle scars, swimming in the sea,  catching his own food, coming into sexual maturity...yes literally his balls dropped! He even became a newspaper celebrity!

The last time I saw him he was very calm and seemed in perfect health. His visits have been getting less and less frequent. He may have come to some unfortunate end but I don't think so. I reckon he has completely gone back to the wild and found his own territory somewhere on the Island.

An Otter was spotted a couple of weeks ago, not far from here. It was eating a crab and according to George who was there, the Otter seemed not bothered at all with his presence...Was this Otto???

Well, it looks like the end of an era. Although I miss Otto's visits, I cant help feel that we have both accomplished something great. He is now living wild as he should be and I have witnessed first hand his amazing journey.

Otto has brought much joy to many people over the last couple of years. I have been lucky enough to have been there throughout.

Thanks to everyone for your support...You know who you are.

This may possibly be Otto's last post. If I have any time I will put up some recent photos of him and his newspaper stories.

Allan and Otto signing out.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Hello there,

been a while since I have updated the goings on of Otto. He is doing extremely well. Nothing out of the ordinary to speak of apart from he is drawing the attention of  tourists. Now that it is the height of summer, the place is full of passing visitors. If you are one of these visitors and come across Otto on your travels, please don't pester him. Remember I am trying to get him back to the wild. Hunting him around the place with a camera is not what he needs. Remember Otto is NOT a pet and could bite if provoked.

He is getting bigger and stronger every day and is spending more time away from home base.

Quote of the month : "It's ok , I have two cats at home"

Cheers for now.

Liam meets Otto

Here we have my nephew Liam meeting Otto for the first time. (under my supervision) 

Thanks to my Bro for the pics.

just lazing around

Otto the poser!

Gimme some fish!!!

Some new photos of Otto

Here are some recent photos. Thanks to Iain and Margaret for the pics.

Cheers for now.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Another Otter!

I am worried that Otto for some reason has not been going to the bay. Clabbach bay is just down from the house and offers everything an otter needs. Over the last week I have been waiting till it gets dark and heading there with Otto in tow. He was reluctant to follow at first, but is now coming down no problem at all. He will not even consider it during the day and seems happier to do so at night.

 I have been trying to get him used to the tide as it races up the sand but as yet he will not go in. Every time the the swell of the sea breaks upon the shore he legs it! He is getting closer all the time, so hopefully its just a matter of time before he goes in.   In the meantime he enjoys investigating the rock pools and sniffing around the seaweed as if  he is looking for food.The more he does this the better as there are plenty of tasty morsels to be had.

Tonight when we were there, I could hear a faint chirping sound in the distance. The sound was masked by noise of the wind and sea. Within minutes the chirping sounded as if it was only feet was another otter! I have heard this sound many times before and even although I could not see it, I knew it was an otter. Otto knew it too. With the hairs standing on the back of my neck I decided to head back towards dry land and get Otto out of possible trouble. I'm amazed that it came so close, especially since a human being with a torch was there.

I've no idea what was going on. My gut instinct says it was a territory thing...why else would a wild otter come so close knowing I was there. I reckon it could have been a territorial male coming to tell Otto to F**k off!!!

Anyone got any thoughts on this?

till next time.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Otto update

Been a while so here is an update on all things Otterish.

 As you know , of late Otto has been getting a taste for fresh chicken. Due to this I have rehomed them. Mee olde matey Peter tis looking after them. He already has loads of hens so the new arrivals seem to be fitting in with the flock very well.

Otto continues to come back at night for a fish or two and still enjoys wrestling with my armoured glove.

Early yesterday evening I happened to be at the front door, looking over towards Ben Hogh. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a pair of Greylag Geese running away from something with their wings flapping madly.'ve guessed it..Bad Otto! Otto was way too slow for them, he was bounding around like a daft thing. Better luck next time mee old son.

Today was a good day. After a spot of digging the garden I met up with Otto and we went for a hike, following the burn up past Ben Hogh. He seemed very happy and was very playful. After about an hour he got bored with my company and headed off on his own.

Over the past while I have been cutting back on the fish I give him. I am trying to wean him off an easy meal and make him go fend for himself. He seems fit and healthy enough so I reckon he must be doing alright in the hunting department. I would love to know what he gets up to when he's away. Otto is now very independent ...long may it continue.

Till next time.

Friday, 12 April 2013

sleeping outside in the open.

Over the last few weeks I have hardly seen Otto. I reckon he is spending a lot of time away. This week he has hardly touched the fish I have been leaving for him. In the last week I have seen him twice, the second time being tonight. Tonight I spent a couple of hours in his company and watching his behaviour. I tried to get him to follow me down to the bay to no evail. He seems to reach a certain point where he will tread no further. I've been thinking that possibly in Ottos travels he has had a run in with another male otter who already has a Clabbach bay. In my mind, this makes sense. Why else would he not go beyond a certain point.

On my arrival home this evening (after the pub) I called his name for a few minutes until he appeared. He was not interested in the fish I put out. Instead he wanted to wrestle. After playing for over an hour I decided to make no effort in communication and instead I sat and watched. At night I use a torch, but never shine it directly on him. After a couple of minutes it was as if I was a fly on the wall.

I watched him closely for another hour, watching him investigate various things.Amongst many things, I observed him climb the roadside wall and run along it like an acrobat, sniffing as he went. He climbed off the wall and snuggled up in the rough grass next to an old fence post. He tried various positions until he found the comfiest and went to sleep. Once asleep I crept away, making sure not to disturb him.

I was always under the assumption that otters always slept in one of their several holts. Ottos behaviour tonight kind of questions this fact. When I headed back into the house he was fast asleep, in the open, without a care in the world...amazing!

nearly to bed myself.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Otto took one of my hens

Lately my hens have been laying eggs like mad. The cockerel has been servicing them regularly and one of them had started to go clucky. Instead of going into the roost at nightfall, it decided to stay in the nestbox. I failed to close the door and in the morning the hen was gone. I followed a trail of feathers to the water pipe at the bridge and there it was. Otto had taken the hen in the night.

Otto has wild instincts and under normal circumstances will take wildfowl, not to mention rabbits. A part of me is annoyed at this but the other half is glad that he has started to hunt.

From now on at nights I will lock the hens in their roost and let them out in the morning. On the mainland this is common practice due to foxes, mink etc. Coll has none of these. The only predator that we have here are...otters.

If the hens go clucky they will also be locked in at night. The nesting areas have hatches that can be closed at night.

On a brighter note... In the wild Otters will take bird eggs such as greylag geese, gulls etc. I tried him out on hen eggs but he would accidently crush them when trying to carry them...not any more! Otto can now carry an egg in his mouth without breaking it!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A special thankyou to the fishermen of Coll

 I would like to say a very big thankyou to the fishermen of Coll for bringing in the finest fish for Otto. If it wasnt for them Otto would probably not be here today. All the best lads, I owe you one. 

Innes, John and Dougie who work on Tarka out on Coll and me olde matey Kenny MacIntyre with the mega ice age freezer.


Time for an update on all things Otterish.

The last few weeks have brought  bad weather for Otto's food suppliers ie Innes and Kenny. The boys havent managed to get out fishing for a while so Otto has been getting tucked into dog food and my personal supply of Pollock. Just when it looked like I was having to get my rod out, the weather changed for the better. The freezer is full again and hopefully a regular supply of fresh fish will be back on the menu.
I tried him on some Octopus again and he seemed to like it this time. I also tested him out on some Squat Lobster. At first he left them aside, but soon got the idea and devoured them leaving only the legs.
I've even been trying him out on fresh hens eggs, though for now he only seems to play with them. If I crack the eggs open he will eat them. I've even been dropping eggs into the burn! He dives for them and brings them up. He then rolls over onto his back with the egg between his forepaws and chest. After a short while he seems to get bored and moves onto something else.

Otto has been spending a lot of time away from home of late and only seems to come back when he is hungry. I only know he has been home when his fish dissapear. I have no idea where he goes or what he is getting up to. He was spotted near Ballyhaugh not long ago where he had a run in with 2 dogs....not to worry, everything was learning curve for Otto.

Today I managed to spend some time with him and watched as he dragged his breakfast, a big rockling, into the burn. He swam up the burn with the fish until he reached a large water pipe. He dragged the fish up the bank and into the pipe. The pipe is only about 10 - 15 feet long. He stayed in the pipe for a while munching and crunching away, so I reckon this must be one of his hides.

He looks healthy enough and seems to be getting bigger all the time. He is still very playful and sticks his big flat nose into everything!

'mon the Otto!!!

Otto the Road Warrior....duh!

Squat Lobster

Monday, 28 January 2013

Moonlight on Clabbach Bay

It's 2am and Otto and I are just back from Clabbach bay! Amazing!
Just after midnight I went out to see if Otto was about. He was in his enclosure looking a bit peckish after another day of Otter freedom. I gave him a reasonable sized Wrasse for his supper and waited for him to eat it.
It was a full moon and everything was cast in it's light, so no need for my torch.
Such a beautiful night after such a wet and windy day...the calm after the storm. I decided to see if Otto would follow me for a walk to the bay...he did!
He stayed by my side all the way there, saying hello to a nosey cow on the way. The bay was magical this evening and it's contours had dramatically changed, as they do after a storm. The phrase 'shifting sands' comes to mind.
It was obvious that Otto had never been here before as he skulked around, ever vigilant, closer to the ground than normal. The tide was out quite far and Otto and I headed for the sea. As soon as we got to the waters edge, Otto started making high pitched chirping sounds and turned around, heading back the way he came. I think he was a bit frightened so we hung about for a while further up the bay. I knelt on the sand and Otto stayed close just kind of listening to his surroundings and watching everything in the pale moonlight.
After about an hour we headed back up the hill towards more familiar territory. As soon as we got back, Otto jumped straight into the burn and had a play around. He seems so much more agile now than he was a few days ago. The water in the burn is very high after all the rain, which gives Otto more depth to submarine and dart around in. I felt we had a good bonding session tonight and I could have stayed out with him all night. What a night...absolutely brilliant! Off to bed now for some Zed time. A memory I shall hold forever.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Gone Again

Went out this morning and Otto was gone again. Some rocks round the base of the raised doorway had been shoved aside and he had started digging a hole. A hole had also been dug on the outside of the door. What I reckon has happened is... he has been trying to dig out, failed, so scaled the fence using his holt roof to stand on. Once out he wanted back in, so started digging at the doorway on the outside before giving up. Looks like the call of the wild is now very strong in Otto.
From now on I will leave his door open and let him come and go as he pleases. No point in trying to keep him in anymore...that would just frustrate him.
I will continue to leave fish out for him and keep a close lookout for when he comes back.
This is what it was all about..rearing a baby otter back to the wild. He may not be completely there yet but he is certainly on his way.

'mon the Otto!!!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Otto is back!

Last night I put a Rockling at the entrance to Otto's holt, just incase he came back and needed some nourishment. I put sand around the area to check for footprints in the morning. I tied the door open and went to bed. This morning I checked and the fish was gone! Otto had been back during the night and proved it by leaving his five toed paw prints in the sand.

I set off looking for him up the burn and down to the beach calling his name as I went. No sign of him anywhere.There were some otter tracks at the bay but they could have been from a wild otter.

I repeated the procedure tonight and left another fish. I'm just back in and pleased to say that Otto has returned!
At first he seemed different, a bit wilder. He had scoffed the rockling so I gave him some cat food as I have no fish defrosted. He seemed very hungry and scoffed the lot. We had a play in the dark until I had had enough of the rain. I closed the enclosure door and came in to get dried off.

An Otters digestive system works very fast, so they really need to eat regularly. He will have to learn to catch his own food now that he is out and about...or go hungry. If he does decide to go wild again then all I can really do is leave fish out for his return. Tonight showed me that he will return when hungry. As long as I keep putting food out then he will not starve. He is now eating about 3lb of fish per day!

I'll check on him again in an hour or so and see if he is still there or not. Perhaps not, now that he has had two full days and a full night out in the wilderness. Maybe he will scale the fence like he did two nights ago...if so, thats fine.

Otto is back!

I checked ... he is still there.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Otto has gone

I went to feed Otto this morning and he wasnt there. I reckon during the night he must have climbed over the wire netting of the enclosure.
I spent all of this morning looking for him. He has been getting a lot of freedom of late, so this was to be expected. I have left some fish in his run with the door open.
There has been a lot of rain during the night and the burn is flowing high. I hope he is ok...must say I am worried.
Come back Otto.

Swimming in the burn

Since Otto's first taste of freedom, I have been introducing him to the burn that runs adjacent to the run. At first it took a while for Otto to go in but now that he's got used to the idea there is no keeping him out. He swims up and down a small stretch of the burn for 2 - 3 hours at a time and loves every minute.

I've been throwing in fresh fish for him to find, and he seems to be having a good success rate at finding them. At first when he found a fish he would head back to his holt to eat it. After a few days he is now quite happy to eat them on the spot. He has found a spot on the bank just next to the bridge, where he sometimes goes for a munch. He must feel safe there as it is quite overgrown. 

He seems to be interested in everything and anything! Yesterday he went into the walled garden and grabbed a plastic plant pot. He then proceeded to carry it into the burn where he played with it for ages. When he swims underwater, all there is to see of him is a trail of bubbles! very funny to watch. He seems to be really enjoying his trips to the burn..hopefully it wont be long before he visits the sea! When I want him back into his holt I call his name and tempt him home with a fish or two. He seems to want to go back, which makes life easier for both of us.

Otto met the Hens today while he was out and about...he didn't lick his lips and didn't seem to mind them at all. Must say i'm rather glad of that.

Now that Otto is using the burn, it seems a bit of a waste of time and energy getting the large pool ready for him. I'll have a think about it. Maybe it will be useful to give him a bit of depth to his swimming. Perhaps prepare him for a bit of deep sea diving?

Monday, 31 December 2012

Tasty new fish species

Here we have whats known as a Brill and a Ling. The Ling is a member of the cod family and tastes great. Cod are being comercially fished to the extreme, so think twice before buying it. The next time you visit the fishmonger ask him for some Ling. If you like Cod, you'll love this!

Handsome eh!

small Ling from Innes crab creels
Otto loved this!

Otto's first taste of real freedom

It's New Years eve. As usual I went to spend time with Otto but today was different. Today was a milestone. I decided to take a huge gamble and let him out. Otto is very trusting of me now, so today is the day. I prepared myself and opened the enclosure door. With the lure of some tasty fish he was out. As soon as he was outside, he started making high pitched chirping sounds. These sounds are used to let mother and cub keep in contact with one another. Within a couple of minutes he was investigating his new found freedom. He stayed close to me and when presented with some fish, he would take it back into his enclosure to eat it. My main worry was that he would take off...he didn't. He was in and out several times and always stayed close to me. This is a giant leap for Otto, and the first step in his leaving home. I will do this every day now, little at a time until we can venture further afield. Hopefully soon I can show him the bay and all the wonders it holds.

A fantastic day indeed........Happy New Year to you all :)

first smell of freedom
up and over...
nearly there...
out and about
Brave New World


My family have been over for Christmas so a couple of days ago I introduced them to Otto. The weather has been terrible...well at least for us humans. Constant wind and rain.
When I went into Otto's enclosure, he was in the pool! This is what i've been waiting for! Brilliant!

I fed him some fish as he jumped in and out of the water... like a real Otter!  He seemed to be having the time of his life! 

Now that he is a "Water Otter", i'll have to think about getting the large pool ready for him. He is coming out a lot more now during the day, which is also great.

Well done Otto.
What you looking at?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


I keep Hens and they are very curious about Otto. Something tells me that he is more curious about them!


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Otter Curling!

For the last 2 days everything has been frozen and Otto has taken up Curling! After breaking up the ice in his swimming pool I decided to scatter some around. He loves pushing the ice around the place, using his bristly nose like a brush...very funny indeed.

I have started hiding his food in different places and he sniffs it all out no problem at all. In the morning all the fish are gone, even the ones I place on the stones inside his pool. This proves that he is indeed going into the tank. Whether he is going in for a dip or not is another story. Will keep an eye out and hopefully catch him having a swim.

Stayed out playing with Otto for my usual hour this evening and came back in feeling like an ice cube! Frrrreeeezing!!!

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Innes got Otto some Octopi yesterday, so I tried him out on it today. Well, it looks like Otto doesn't like Octopus. He had a sniff at it  and turned his nose up. Instead of the Octopus, he had a juicy Flatfish.
 Never mind, i'll have the inky mollusc for my dinner instead.


Otto didn't know what to think of this!
 Flounder or a Sole?
Instead of the Octopus he had this Flatty.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

WWF Otto wrestling gloves

Otto is getting bigger every is his grip! I have been doing some bare handed wrestling with him...but no more. Ouch!!! Tonight I decided to do the heavy duty glove approach. My hands are now safe from those teeth of his and he seems to not mind my new mittens at all. Lots of  happy Otter vocalising and lots of wrestling fun tonight. He seems now to be getting playfully stuck in a lot more, and due to the gloves my hands are feeling a lot better for it.

As usual for this time of year, the wind and rain is relentless. I usually have to wear my waterproofs but tonight there has been no rain. Hallelujah!!!

Young Otters, like most young animals, have the need to bond with their Mother and Siblings. Sadly Otto has neither. A lot of bonding is done during play. I am now Otto's Mum, so I play with him as much as possible...A playful Otter is a happy Otter.

Innes got Otto some fresh Octopus today, so I will try him out with some of Coll's freshest calamari tomorrow... photos to follow.

No sign yet of using his new pool...may have to re-think things...Hmmmm.