The Bert and Bart Story

A Story Of Two River Otters

Text and Photographs By

Bob Paty

Ms. Raccoon and Meli

The morning sunlight, filtered through the top of cypress trees on the east end of a pond, fell as shadows and highlights on the rippled surface of the water. This created an illusion of ghostlike images dancing across the pond's surface. In the water, Bert and Bart, two sibling river otters were engaged in an underwater game of tag with Greeby, a pied-billed grebe. It had been a cold night, not unusual for this time of year in Central Florida and it didn't seem to deter the three at play. The water in the pond was much warmer than the surrounding air and the three were comfortable as long as they remained in the water. Frequently the grebe would profit by these games as small fish or crayfish would be stirred up, which Greeby could inhale as he swam. These games would usually be short lived, as Greeby would tire and take refuge in the tall grass at the edge of the pond.

Occasionally Angy a female anhinga would fly down to the pond and also engage in an under water "catch me if you can," game with the two otters. Quite often she would reverse the game, coming up behind the otters and give them a nip on their tails. When Angy got tired she would flop up to an over hanging limb, just out of reach of the young otters, and take a nap. Angy was always welcomed by the otter brothers, as she always brought news and bits of gossip from the marsh and the big lake.

All this was fun and play for the two otters, for at this point of their lives they didn't take things too seriously. Until a month ago the two otters had an easy life. They lived with their mother, a brother and sister. Their lives started to change when Charlie their brother was killed up on the road by a careless driver. A week later Ann disappeared while the four of them were fishing in the big lake. They were sure an alligator was responsible. A month later their mother informed the two that it was time for them to be on their own, as she was expecting a new family. They had never known their father. Soon after the four of them were born, their father left them to start a new family down by the big lake.
Now the two otters, who were just over a year old were on their own, living alone in this pond which would be home to them until spring arrived. They didn't realize it yet, but the strong bond between them would eventually be broken and they would go their separate way, starting families of their own.

One morning as the two otters were resting on the pond's shore, the brush on the other side of the pond suddenly parted and as from nowhere a handsome young bobcat appeared. Bert saw the bobcat first and immediately recognized him,
"Hey Rosco, what's up my man?"
"Nothing much, how is it with you guys?"
The otters moved closer to Rosco the young bobcat, just as he was saying,
"I can't believe how cold it was last night, and this is Florida?"
"Rosco, we're staying in the pond until the sun starts to warm things up, the water is warm come on in and take a swim to warm up."
"No thanks."
"Angy the anhinga told us that you've been seeing that cute little bobcat that lives down by the big lake.
"Yes, but I've got a rival, he's also in love with her. He is big and mean and I might have to fight him to win her affection."
Bert, who always seemed to have solutions for problems, said,
"Rosco, if you do get into a fight, it won't make any difference, girls will still pick the guy they want to be with."
"You're probably right, I'll bet he would leave her right after their kittens are born. I told her that I will be there for her, to help raise a family."
"Rosco, sounds like you are the one for her. Are you hungry, we can catch you a fat mullet or a plump bass?"
"No thanks, I'm going to see if I can catch some mice, a wood rat, or a a nice fat squirrel."
"Ugh, how can you eat anything like that?"
"They are delicious,"
Rosco replied!
In a wink Rosco disappeared into the brush and was gone .

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