The Stumpy And Louise Story

A Story Of Two Florida River Otters

Text and Photographs By

Bob Paty

Stumpy and Louise

Stumpy and Louise are two river otters that live in a swamp-like place in Florida called the Viera Wetlands.

Stumpy and Louise have lived there for a number of years, and like most residents of Florida, they enjoy the sunshine and warmer Florida winters. The fresh water ponds provide their favorite food, fish and an occasional crayfish. The two river otters like times of play, when they can chase anhingas and grebes in underwater games of tag. It is often said that river otters spend as much time at play as they do fishing. The down side of river otters that live in Florida, is the constant danger of the ever-present alligators.

When Stumpy was very young, he had an unfortunate encounter with an alligator. He escaped the jaws of the gator, but lost his left front paw and part of his tail in the process. This is how he got the name "Stumpy." Louise got her name - well, everyone thought that Louise was a nice name for a female river otter.

River otters can put up a fierce fight when they have to, while they are in the water. They have strong jaws and canine teeth that can inflict a terrible bite. Their thick fir and body fat can withstand a bite from most predators, however they are no match for an alligator.
Don't think for a minute that river otters are water bound. They can run very fast in spite of their short legs. They are no match for the agility of a male bobcat or Florida panther if they are out of their element, the water.

River otters enjoy time when they can leave the water and lay on the warm sand in the sunshine. This is especially true during the winter months in Florida, when the water in the swamps and lakes can get very cold.

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Enloying The Warm Sand

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