Otter Devours Alligator

Are we next?

Mar 7, 2014
Outside Magazine

They are cute and fun to watch. But otters have a dark side.    Mr.TinDC/Flickr

How do you spend most of your time at work? If you’re like most people, the answer is “watching video of the latest advances in robot technology and getting so scared about the coming ‘singularity’ (when self-aware computers rise up to destroy us) that you have to watch a video of cute little otters frolicking on a riverbank just to calm down enough to avoid screaming out loud.”

Well, I have some good news and some bad news:

The good news is that it won’t be robots that rise up and destroy us. The bad news is that it will be otters.

“Otters?!” you say. That’s impossible. They are so cute and fun to watch as they play and slide and swim in the water, rolling on their backs with what seems like the specific intent of letting us watch them use a flat, table-like rock as they crack open an oyster shell and eat with their hands like a human being. You want to tie bibs around their necks and hand them cups of mignonette sauce. You’re not afraid of them.

Well, you should be. River otters are vicious predators. They can grow to be four feet long and weigh up to 30 pounds—and they have to eat 15 percent of their body weight in food every day. And they don't kill just for food or survival. Male sea otters, close relatives of the deceptively attractive river otter, have been observed raping baby seals to death, seemingly just for pleasure. (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence, but it is true.)

They’ve been known to attack human beings. Like 13-year-old Kierra Clark and her 11-year-old cousin this past summer in Washington State. Or 96-year-old Morell Denton in Florida in 2010. Or, in a terrifying incident captured on video, 19-year-old Will Gibbons, also in Florida, that same year.

And now, this week, thanks to a series of photographs taken in (where else?) Florida, we learn that these voracious terror-beasts hunt and kill prey as formidable as alligators! (Alligators are having a tough week.) The eyewitness to the attack said she was sure the otter ate the alligator because she heard “crunching noises” as the dagger-toothed “water-leopard” broke through the reptile’s scaly armor to get the tender meat inside.

These furry killing machines are at the very top of the food chain. They hunt in packs. They respond to acts of human kindness with violence. They are growing in number, have started invading heretofore otter-free urban areas, and appear to be getting bigger and more aggressive.

It’s time we face the music:

The otters are coming for us. They will eat us alive and pick their teeth with the bones of our pinky fingers.

The Anatomy of an Otter Attack

Otters do prey on gators, but rarely do they attack such large specimens. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The otter attacks from behind to avoid the gator's bite. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The gator thrashes itself into a lactic acid frenzy, hastening its own demise. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In this battle, the otter's best strategy is patience. Eventually, the gator will tire. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On land, the otter will eat the gator alive, ripping off the hide to get at the guts inside. Photo: Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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