In 2007 three tiny otter cubs, Splish, Splash and Splosh, arrived at Secret World on January 1st. With your help we were able to build a new otter pen with a large otter pond which has now been used for many otter cubs over the last 15 years.
This enclosure now needs to be renovated. Luckily, we don’t have any otter cubs in at the moment but because otters can breed all year around, we may need the pen soon! The pond needs to be relined and the cameras reinstalled so that we can monitor the cubs while they are up there and hopefully stream footage on our web site. We are also hoping to install a filter system so that we don’t have to clean, empty and fill the pond each week as we have had to in the past. This will save the cost of water in a three-month period which is approximately £1,000 a quarter. The water has to be kept clean to ensure that the otter fur is in good condition and insulates them through the cold winter months. We have seen them breaking the ice in order to go for a swim in the winter! We have been lucky to get grants to help us with this project but need a further £8,500 to complete to facilities.
We will build new otter boxes as these are used as their homes in the enclosure but also to travel them to their new release site when they are ready to go. They are one of the orphans that stay with us for the longest time as they would stay with their mother for up to 18 months. In the same way as we do our orphan badgers and foxes, the otter cubs are put into a release pen at the site to give them chance to get used to their surroundings before they start their second chance in the wild.
The orphan rearing while they have milk, is in our treatment centre but once able to feed themselves, they move to the otter enclosure. This is with limited human contact to allow them to become wild. Food is thrown into them at night, and for the safety of our staff, we will be creating a new permanent pathway with sensor lighting to allow access to enclosures in the dark.
Facilities to rear otters in England are very limited. The most difficult part is the need for a large enclosure with a swimming facility for anything up to a year. Otter cubs are the most expensive of our orphans. When starting to wean, they will eat anything up to 15 troutlings a day which cost 50p each. Once they are juveniles, they will be eating a whole trout plus half a pound of mince as well as two dead chicks a day. It is important that they have this varied diet to ensure that they grow strong and good condition, ready for their release. To include everything such a milk, fish, staff time, electric, water and the cost of finding a release site (surveying and building the soft release pen) would probably be approximately £5,000 so any donations towards this cost is very welcome.
If you are able to help us with this project, we will be really grateful. We do need to start work as soon as we can because once otter cubs come in, the facility needs to be ready for them. Make sure that if you are able to donate, that you will be able to cope with the ever-increasing cost of living that concerns us all. We would never want you to give more that you can afford. Hopefully we will be able to report any progress in our Autumn newsletter. It will certainly allay our concerns that we may not be ready for cubs when they arrive.
I do hope you haven’t found the summer too hot. Whilst it’s lovely to see the sun, the high temperatures do make things difficult. I’m afraid I’m not very good in the heat.
Do take care and if you would like to know more about the scheme, give me a ring on 01278 768701.
With best wishes,
Charity Founder and Advisor