Otterly adorable: Prague rescue station takes in orphaned baby otters

The two babies were found by a Prague stream and are now doing well at the city's wildlife rescue station.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 28.03.2023 13:59:00 (updated on 28.03.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Two abandoned baby otters now call the Prague Wild Animal Rescue Station their home. The rescue station has treated injured adult otters in the past, but this is the very first time they are caring for otter cubs. The cubs were about 6 weeks old, hungry, and exhausted but not injured.

The Eurasian river otters were found without their mother near the Říčanské stream in the Uhříněves district on March 6. The species is protected by law and is classified as “near threatened.” Sightings in Prague are rare.

The rescue service originally thought the person who discovered them was mistaken. “We guessed it was rather a marten, which has also happened to us several times. However, the photo we received soon after confirmed that it was indeed a small baby otter, approximately 6 weeks old,” the rescue station said on its website.

The person, who called on a non-stop emergency line, reported a lone baby. Once captured and taken back to the station, the male cub at first refused food. The rescuers contacted specialists, who said otters love trout.

“We quickly got trout fillets and mixed a fish soup together with special milk for puppies and offered it to the baby otter in a baby bottle with a pacifier. And that was much better! To our great joy, the cub started eating with gusto. Once it had a good feed, it burrowed into the heated bedding and was finally able to rest,” the rescue station said.

A second discovery

That very same evening, a different caller reported another baby otter about 200 meters from where the first had been found. This one was slightly smaller and female. Both cubs are thriving and gaining weight thanks to their hearty diet.

Baby otters only leave the den by themselves if their mother did not return, so the mother must have met with some tragedy.

Finding the second cub was good news as otters usually have litters of two. It also helps that the babies will be together, as wild mammals who are raised alone tend to bond with humans, which makes it difficult to return them to nature. Only one nurse is taking care of the pair to keep human contact to a minimum.

Otters will be moved to a specialized rescue center

Prague's rescue station lacks a water tank with live fish, which the baby otters need. The pair will soon be transferred to the better-equipped Pavlov Rescue Station in the Vysočina region, which has more experience with otters.

“Our otters will grow up there and when they are completely self-sufficient, they will return to the wild,” the station said.

Eurasian river otters were almost exterminated in the past, and have suffered from chemicals in the environment, habitat loss, and poaching. The population in Czechia is growing, but it is declining in other parts of the world.

Construction on a new rescue station has started

The Prague Wild Animal Rescue Station is operated by the city-run forestry company Lesy hl. m. Prahy and part of the National Network of Rescue Stations of the Czech Republic.

Each year it takes in about 5,000 animals. It is open 365 days a year and has an emergency line at 773 772 771 where people can report animals or find out what to do. This also prevents people from intervening with animals who don’t need care.  

Work on building a new station began in Prague's Jinonice neighborhood began in February. It should be completed in two years and offer more modern care facilities in an ecologically friendly setting.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more