December 21, 2015
A family of otters at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium is enjoying some early festive cheer thanks to their keepers.
Staff have been hard at work preparing their own ‘otterly’ delicious version of a Christmas dinner and have even been wrapping up special yuletide gifts for the highly intelligent mammals.
Among the items on the Christmas menu were; turkey, eggs, carrots, Brussels sprouts, nuts and raisins.
As well as providing a tasty treat for the otters, the food also enables them to practice their natural foraging skills.
The otters were also presented with a selection of gift-wrapped presents which included a rugby ball, a tug of war rope and a treat ball as well as hay and monkey nuts.
“Otters are intelligent, inquisitive animals. We provide them with a series of environmental enrichment programmes throughout the year,” said Blue Reef Aquarium’s Jenna MacFarlane.
“We’re always trying to introduce new things to keep them stimulated and the Christmas gifts and dinners provide an interesting and unusual challenge for them over the holidays,” she added.
Asian short-clawed otters are found across southern Asia including India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
They are highly social and intelligent mammals with a wide vocabulary. Scientists have identified up to 12 different calls.
Otters mate for life, with the female being the dominant partner. The life expectancy of Asian short claw otters in the wild is unknown, however in captivity they can live to at least 12 with some animals living beyond their 20th birthdays.