Otters kill man's 50 goldfish in Hougang a week after guard dog passed away

The dog had chased away otters and saved the man's fish in February.

Zi Shan Kow | June 27, 2022, 07:26 PM

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Just a week after his bulldog passed away, a man unexpectedly lost 50 pet goldfish to some otters on Jun. 26.

The 60-year-old man, who lives in a landed property along Gerald Drive, told Shin Min Daily News he was devastated.

Otters were chased away by pet dog in the past

Identified only by his surname, Lin said his dog would always bark at the seven or eight otters often seen on the road.

In February, a group of them had found their way into his courtyard.

Luckily, their bulldog chased the otters away, protecting the koi fish he owned.

Now, four months later, the otters broke into the pond again.

"This time, the pond had more than 50 goldfish, which were all bitten to death," said Lin.

Man lost S$5,000

The family only realised what had happened the next morning when Lin's helper came to clean the courtyard.

The courtyard was a mess, the goldfish were floating on the water, and one or two were on the verge of death.

Lin told Shin Min they "didn't hear a thing", and he speculated that the otters had broken in in the middle of the night when they were sleeping.

Each goldfish costs around S$100, which amounts to a total loss of S$5,000, Lin said helplessly.

"I don't know how to claim my losses, and I don't know if the relevant authorities can put in place any counter measures to solve this problem," he added.

Image by Shin Min Daily News.

Otters bit through net

Lin had fenced up the pond and added a net to the bottom of the metal front gate about two or three years ago after his koi fish were injured by lizards, he shared with Shin Min.

After the incident in February, he gave his 20 koi fish to his brother and kept goldfish instead.

He also raised the height of the net on the gate, thinking it would deter the otters.

"A taller net wouldn't have made a difference. The otters actually bit through the net and broke in to eat the fish. I think I won't be keeping any more fish for now, maybe just a few small fish to prevent mosquitoes from breeding."

Screenshot via Shin Min Daily News.

In a video interview, Lin pointed out many headless goldfish that were covered in blood. Some were still alive but had bites taken out of its head.

"I feel terrible. These otters are like robbers, so heartless," said Lin.

Otters are likely the Anchorvale family

The family of otters involved is likely the Anchorvale family, nature enthusiast and member of the Otter Working Group Bernard Seah told Mothership.

In March 2022, the family had wandered into Yio Chu Kang and killed eight pet koi fish and 50 goldfish in another estate.

After a fight over territory, the Anchorvale otters have been looking for a new home.

They were commonly seen in a canal at Gerald Drive but moved away from Punggol River due to the presence of other otters.

They were once a family of 10 with five pups, but most did not survive.

How to prevent otters from entering your home

Otters are territorial animals that live in groups and mostly eat fish.

Attracted to water features, they are unable to differentiate the fish in the river from those in private ponds.

Seah added that the net Lin used appears to be made of soft plastic.

As adult otters weigh about 10kg, a stronger material is needed to withstand the weight of several otters and their bites at the same time, he said.

Here are some handy infographics by the Otter Working Group and the National Parks Board (NParks) to help residents who live in areas visited by otters:

Image by Ottercity.

Image by NParks.

Top images by Shin Min Daily News.