Otters are cute and playful except when they aren’t.
A Minnesota tri-athlete who was practicing open water swimming in a lake outside Duluth ran into one of the non-cute and non-playful otters. She had 25 bites on her feet, back, and legs.
Fangs pierced Leah Prudhomme’s legs as she swam across the deep, dark rum-colored northern Minnesota lake. It could be anything, she thought — muskrats, beavers, maybe a muskie. But it didn’t let up.
In the middle of Island Lake near Duluth, the triathlete struggled as the animal sunk its needle-sharp teeth into her legs, feet and back, leaving 25 bite marks, some 2 inches deep.
“It just kept coming after me,” said Prudhomme, 33, of Anoka. “You never knew where it was going to bite next.”
In between peppering her with puncture marks, the animal’s head popped up a few feet away. That’s when Prudhomme noticed its distinctive long tapered tail, small beady eyes and gray head. An otter.
Wildlife officers are not sure whether the otter was rabid or merely a mother protecting her young. Prudhomme received treatment at a local hospital and has started the shot series for someone presumed to have been bitten by a rabid animal. Her injuries might have been worse if she was not wearing a wet suit which gave her some protection from the otter’s bites.
Prudhomme is a trouper and will be returning to the same lake next month to participate in the Duluth Triathlon. She is not letting this incident stop her from competing.