The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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88
THE TAMING OF AN OTTER1
Otters used once to be very common in England in the neighbourhood of rivers, and even in some instances of the sea, but in many places where they once lived in great numbers they have now ceased to exist. They destroy large quantities of fish, though they are so dainty that they only care for the upper parts of the body. If the rivers are frozen and no fish are to be had, they will eat poultry, or even lambs ; and if these are not to be found, they can get on quite well for a long time on the bark of trees or on young branches.
Fierce though otters are when brought to bay, they can easily be tamed if they are caught young enough. More than a hundred years ago the monks of Autun, in France, found a baby otter only a few weeks old, and took it back to the convent, and fed it upon milk for nearly two months, when it was promoted to soup and fish and vegetables, the food of the good monks. It was not very sociable with strange animals, but it made great friends with a dog and cat who had known it from a baby, and they would play together half the day. At night it had a bed in one of the rooms, but in the day it always pre­ferred a heap of straw when it was tired of running about. Curious to say, this otter was not at all fond of the water, and it was very seldom that it would go near a basin of water that was always carefully left near its bed. When it did, it was only to wash its face and front paws, after which it would go for a run in the courtyard, or curl
1 From Bingley's British Quadrupeds.
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