The first time I saw an otter in the wild was on a walk. I couldn’t believe seeing this beautiful creature on a path and was mesmerised by its appearance. So, when I saw a sign to the Otters and Butterflies in Buckfastleigh, Devon, I couldn’t resist a visit.
Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies is a popular attraction in Buckfastleigh. It is entirely dependent on donations and has pools which have water pumped from the River Dart- as well as the delightful otters. Three breeds of otter are kept here- the Asian Short Clawed Otter, the British Otter and the North American Otter. But before seeing the otters I wandered into the steamy tropical glasshouse where the butterflies were kept. Even on my visit there were a number of muticoloured butterflies fluttering around the plants or feasting on fruit left for them. Terrapins ambled around the paths and slid into the pools. The colours were quite striking and one gave me the inspiration for the decor for a room I’m decorating at home!
But I had really come to see the otters and wasn’t disappointed. A smell of wet fur and fish hung in the air around here. The pens have tunnels and water for the otters to play in and by watching the ground intently I soon saw some North American otters scampering about. British otters are smaller but just as cute. I watched them swim, hide, run and play for a long time and then it was feeding time. Somehow the otters know when food is around and they started to call. I watched as they played with an egg, ate minced meat, and devoured pieces of trout.
These are beautiful creatures and it was a joy to see them up close. It is also possible to have an otter experience here where visitors spend the day with a keeper learning about the otters and their way of life. They then help at feeding time as two guys did on my visit. I wasn’t sure I could sit in the otter pen and have otters jumping on me to get food though! Just to see the otters was my pleasure.