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The Bishan Otters

A Pictorial Story

Story by Shirley Ng May 2nd, 2015

It started with One

The lone male was seen exploring the park in 2014. He went as far as Lower Peirce.

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then there were two

Initially, there was one lone male that was sighted on many occasions exploring the park. And then there were sightings of a pair roaming the park. They may have also followed the canal system to the Singapore Botanic Gardens but found the site unsuitable. They returned to the park and settled in.

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Abundance of fish

The river is well stocked with exotic species of fish released by people. Contrary to what some might say there is ample fish stock to sustain the pair. There’s no need to restock the river as the fish will replenish themselves.

Some don’t like the otters as they think that they are fish terrorists. All animals hunt to survive, we used to do it too but now the killing animals are hidden away in abattoirs.

Some residents say that the pair are terrorizing the fish.
Splashing around catching fish
Tilapia catch
A fine catch, a red-tailed catfish, native of the Amazon River
Swift under water
Exotic catfish spawning proof that there's ample food in the river

The life of an expectant dad

Where’s the female? What happened to the other otter? Were some of the common questions asked by park regulars. Well she was in the holt nursing her pups. They are born blind and need about a month before their eyes open. She was seen occasionally but she doesn’t stay long. The minute something scares her, she is ready to seek the safety of her holt and pups.

He on the other hand stayed close to the holt and protected his territory by marking it with his spraint. There are days when I can’t find them but sighting of his fresh spraint told me they were still around.

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and Then there are five

Finally, the pups were seen with their parents on April 15 at dusk. So begins a new chapter for the young pair. They have three SG50 babies. At the start, mama wasn’t comfortable with all the attention. She panicked when someone set off a flash and for the next couple of days she hid her babies.

By end-April, the pups were stronger and more rambunctious. She remained the ever attentive and sometimes strict parent. She snatches fish from one pup to give to the other. Did you know that the female is also the matriarch of the family? Although she’s smaller than the male, she calls the shots.

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The outside seems strange and the pups had to be coaxed out
Pup resting on mama's back
Mini otter with a perfect pose
Trotting around with a catfish head
Mama snatches it away

A happy family

The contented family slumber in the wet weather. The pups will continue to grow and learn from their parents. Once they reach maturity, they will leave to find their own territory.

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Footnote: If you want to appreciate this family watch quietly, and respect their need for personal space. You and I need our personal space so do otters. Should they panic give them time to calm down.
Bishan Park Singapore