Orphan otter pup rescued from Tesco delivery van
An adorable baby otter was rescued from the inside of a Tesco delivery van thanks to the efforts of an RSPCA inspector and supermarket staff.
To give the story an even happier ending, the young female pup has since been reunited with her brother - who'd been collected from the same area by the RSPCA the day before.
Both pups, thought to be around three to four months old, are now in the safe care of South Essex Wildlife Hospital where they'll remain for a number of months before they're returned to the wild.
The rescue took place on Tuesday 11 October at the Tesco Extra at Copdock, Ipswich, after the young otter had been spotted being attacked by some birds.
Seeking refuge, the otter then ran to hide under the delivery van and ended up inside the engine compartment.
The male otter pup was found the day before, around half a mile away after it was spotted running inside Sunbelt Rentals. Kind-hearted staff managed to confine him in a box before animal rescue officer Jen Richardson collected him.
For the engine rescue - RSPCA Inspector Caroline Richardson took around an hour to catch the little pup using some food on a stick to lure her - then using a grabber to place around her to safely pull her out.
When I got the call, I must admit, I expected to find a ferret or a rat stuck in the engine - but when I reached in to get a better look, there was the cutest little face staring back at me.
The otter wasn't coming out on her own accord and the staff had been trying to lure her out with some food on a stick - as this seemed to work I carried on with the approach and then - when the moment was right, I was able to use my rescue equipment to grab her and pull her out.
Despite her ordeal, she wasn't injured - and she was quite curious. It soon became apparent she was just a baby.
I knew my colleague Jen had been in the same area the day before to collect an otter pup - and it seems like this poor little pair had been heading towards Tesco for help. I jokingly said maybe they wanted a tannoy message out to find their mum - like when children are lost in a store!
Sadly though, these two are too young to be out of their den - we think unfortunately something must've happened to mum or the den was disturbed.
I took my pup to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital - where her sibling was already being cared for - and I'm delighted to say the pair have now been reunited.
I'd like to say a huge thank you to the staff at Tesco for doing all they could to help the otter - and I'm just so pleased that these two siblings have been reunited.
Although it's very sad to think these pups lost their mum it's heart-warming to know they've been reunited.
We again just want to thank everyone who has helped in the rescue of the otters. Now they're in the care of a wildlife hospital - they stand the best chance of being rehabilitated and then returned back to the wild where they belong.
Otter cubs can stay in care for up to 12 months. They're released at an age and size when they would naturally move off to find their own territory and way in life.
In my 12 years with the RSPCA this is my first otter rescue - and it was such a rewarding experience to be able to help this little girl - she was also the cutest little thing I have ever seen. My colleague Jen has just started her first full week on her own on the road and she also got to rescue an otter!
Sue Schwar, Manager of South Essex Wildlife Hospital, where the animals are being looked after said:
It was just wonderful to reunite this pair together and really heart-warming. They're very skinny and do have parasites - but we're really pleased that they're eating well. They're on a diet of trout and we expect they'll get through an awful lot while they're here!
A Tesco Spokesperson said:
Colleagues at our Ipswich Extra store were very surprised to find an unexpected passenger in one of our delivery vans. We'd like to thank the RSPCA for taking care of the otter pup and we're really happy she's been reunited with her sibling. We wish them both a speedy recovery.
Help us continue rescuing otters in need
After virtually disappearing from water courses in England around 50 to 60 years ago because of persecution and the use of pesticides, otters have made a steady return to the country's rivers over the past 20 years. Otter rehabilitation is very specialised and you need to have suitable facilities to care for them.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating, releasing and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please donate online or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.