Meet the Termin-Otter – the creature who put the wild into wildlife in a County Clare village when locals tried to help it return to the waters after it was found shuffling up the main street of Tulla with its head stuck in a bag of Tayto crisps.
The otter, now known locally as Arnie, even managed to bite local farmer Joe Burke from Broadford as he helped return it to a lake in East Clare – but not before it had escaped from Burke’s jeep.
“The otter did bite, but it is a small superficial mark. It’s only a small scrape. I’m just delighted that we were able to rescue it and return it to water,” Burke told the Irish Independent after witnessing the dramatic events from start to finish.
Burke revealed: “I was at a shop in Tulla and I saw what I thought was an otter.
“I turned to Mike Hogan [owner of the store] and just said: ‘Is that an otter outside?’”
The two men left the shop to discover that an otter was indeed making its way down the street.
“It turned into a courtyard and we decided to trap it. We had three pallets for fertiliser with us so we blocked off the exit,” said Mr Burke who was joined by Hogan in the chase .
The otter however soon became aggressive.
“People were afraid to go near it – they were intimidated by him. There was a Tayto crisps bag lying there and it had gotten its head into it and some people were saying he would choke so I decided I’d have to do something,” said Burke.
Burke eventually captured the otter which he described as “quite vicious” in a bag and put him into the back of his car in order to drop him in a nearby lake.
However, the otter chewed through the bag, beginning round two.
“There was a small window broken in the back and he jumped out. Now he was out in the open country,”Mr Burke told The Irish Times. “He had the upper hand on us. He was well able to duck us.”
After a long chase, the two men eventually threw a traffic cone over the animal.
“He was very strong and was trying to escape so I had to stand on the cone and Mike got a board and slipped it underneath. There was an air hole at the top so he was okay.”
“The otter was absolutely exhausted. It was a very warm morning and if we had put the otter into the lake at that stage, it would have drowned, so we allowed it to get its breath back. It started to try to bite us again and at that stage I knew that the otter was ready to get back into the water,” concluded Burke.