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Otters may have become permanent residents of the Melksham area, following unexpected sightings of the mammals near Clackers Brook.
Andrew Corlett of Dorset Crescent saw the otters when walking home one evening.
He said, “I was shocked to see them, and have been back every night since to try and see them again, but haven’t had any luck!
“It was around 10.15pm on a wet and windy night. I heard a splash in the brook and turned round to see two otters playing in the water; they must not have heard me coming, but they didn’t seem bothered when they saw me.
“I stood and watched them for 10 minutes and they seemed perfectly at home. A streetlight was shining on them and I knew exactly what they were, but I never expected to see them in Melksham. I met a dog walker who says he’s also seen them, so they must live in the area. I’m desperate to see them again; it’s like I’ve had a dream that I can’t recreate!”
Kate Brewin, of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust said, “It’s perfectly likely to have been otters that were seen. They are becoming much more common and sightings have been recorded in the area; not in Melksham itself but certainly in the Beanacre area. It is quite likely that they are repopulating the area.
“While otters themselves aren’t rare it is very uncommon to see them, as they tend to be very shy. Our own chief executive recently saw one for the first time in 25 years – people do get excited! I’ve never heard of them attacking, so they’re unlikely to be a danger to pets. The best thing to do if you see otters is to leave them well alone and report the sighting to Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre.”
Otters can grow up to 135cm long and weigh 10kg; they tend to live up to 10 years. They live in underground burrows, and feed on fish, water birds, amphibians and crustaceans.