Otter pups admitted separately, recovering together

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Two river otters were among the 69 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The river otters were found at two different locations in Naples. One pup was seen along the edge of a lake. Residents in the area noted the youngster had been vocalizing the previous day but no adult otter ever responded to her cries. Wildlife Hospital Critter Couriers Sheila and Melissa Demkovich were able to safely contain the otter pup and transport her to the hospital for care.

The second otter pup was seen along the bank of a canal. A homeowner noticed the pup swim across the canal and curl up amongst the rocks. While otters frequent the canal, no adult was seen tending the pup, which was cause for concern for the baby’s wellbeing.

Hospital staff responded to the call for assistance for the otter along the canal. Two people were needed to approach the pup and corner her to keep her from escaping into the canal. Several feet of rocks were removed until the pup was finally unable to continue burrowing among the rocks.

The two pups were close in age with one being slightly larger. Both otters were monitored for several days and diagnostic tests were run to check for parasites. It was determined both were in good health and the two pups could be put together in a larger recovery space. Otters are social creatures so combining the two allows the youngsters to bond with each other as they would do with their littermates in the wild.

While the pups are young in age both have teeth so utmost precautions were taken when rescuing these babies. Otters are rabies vector species so all staff and volunteers used gloves and protective equipment to ensure no one came in direct contact with the babies.

Please, if you see a young animal you believe may be orphaned, call the wildlife hospital immediately. Continue to monitor the situation. Hospital staff can provide information and assistance. Our priority is to keep the public safe as we help the animal get the care it needs.

Special Thanks

The team at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital thanks Dr. Christi Warren from Animal Eye Doctors in Estero for volunteering her time and expertise to consult with our staff vet on several cases last week. Dr. Warren makes “house calls” to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital on her time off. Many animals admitted to our Wildlife Hospital have suffered head trauma and eye injuries. Dr. Warren’s knowledge, skills and diagnostic equipment helps us ensure we are providing appropriate care to our patients.

Equa Holistics also deserves thanks for donating probiotic products for use with our bird and mammal patients. Staff has worked with us to explain their products (formulated for use with dogs and cats) so we can use them on our wildlife patients. Probiotics are an important part of many of our treatment plans since some of our patients are extremely debilitated and stressed when they arrive at the hospital.

Recent Releases

A raccoon, an eastern screech owl, a gray catbird, a Virginia opossum and five eastern cottontails were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see