Atti, short for Attitude, and Jonsi are 2 of the Zoo's most vocal residents! Atti shouts when she thinks food is around and she's taught Jonsi to do so as well. He used to be quiet! They get fed 3 times a day but like to pretend they haven't been fed by shouting as loudly as they can but don't be fooled by these mischievous little characters! Otters have at least 12 different vocalisations to help communicate. They also use scent for communication and for boundary marking.
We very closely monitor their weight to ensure that they are in the best of condition, and have trained them to go on scales.
Jonsi was named after the lead singer of Sigur Ross, the band who did the sound track for the 'We Bought A Zoo' film. Here's a video of Benjamin Mee, the CEO of Dartmoor Zoo introducing and feeding Atti and Jonsi.
As a species they are the smallest of the otters but are also the most social, tending to live in family groups. The group has an alpha pair who are the only ones that breed, and previous offspring help to raise the young. We had hoped that Atti and Jonsi might breed, and although signs were promising and they are a great pair, they haven't had any young and Atti is now beyond breeding age. Otters are monogamous and for pairs for life. Life expectancy is between 11 and 16 years in the wild.
Otters can have 2 litters a year of between 1 and 6 pups. Gestation period is 60 days and when they are born pubs ave no teeth, can't really move, and their eyes are closed. Their eyes don't open for 40 days. After 14 weeks they are weaned and after that they start to eat solid food and after another 3 months they start to swim. The mother stays with the young and the male helps build the nest and get food for her.
In the wild they are active during the day can be found living in freshwater wetlands like swaps and mangroves. They can also be found in irrigated rice fields and ponds. They dig their burrows into the mud of the banks and unlike most other otters, spend most of their time on dry land. They like to eat molluscs, crabs, amphibians, fish, insects and small aquatic animals, and their dexterous paws are ideal to help them with this and are only partially webbed.
Fancy getting up close with the otters?
For those between 8 and 15 you could take part in a fantastic Junior Keeper for a Day experience which features feeding these adorable creatures!