A pair of otter pups were found abandoned, crying, and covered in frost 500m apart on the side of the Lancaster canal.
Eight week old sisters Bubble and Squeak were left to face the elements for 72 hours after seemingly being abandoned by their parents near Garstang on December 6.
A local resident resisted the urge to pick them up for three days following advice from a vet. She then took them in and got in touch with The Lakes Aquarium in Ulverston, Cumbria.
Aquarium employee Sarah Neill, 29, from Grange-over-Sands, who is also a marine mammal medic for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said the otters were very lucky to be alive.
Sias Delport, the aquarium’s operations manager, went to pick them up, and Sarah was tasked with nursing them back to health, before they were taken to an otter sanctuary on the Isle of Skye on Saturday December 15. Sarah said: “I had to keep them warm in a nest box, and had to feed them warm lactose free milk every four hours throughout the day and night.
“They were around eight weeks old, they had little teeth and they were already weening.
“We knew they were siblings because they cuddled up together immediately and at first they constantly called to each other when they were apart.
“When I spoke to the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF), they said the mother never usually leaves them for longer than 24 hours, and also that otters have a very high metabolism so it doesn’t take long for them to starve to death, so they were very lucky.”
The otters are now residing on a sanctuary at the IOSF on Skye, where they will be for at least a year, before learning how to live in the wild. It is then hoped they will be released near to where they were originally found.
Sias Delport said: ““They were found around 500m apart, so we think their mother may have been in the process of moving them somewhere, possibly to another holt.
“I know that an otter can take on a fox any day of the week, but at this time it was cold, she may have been weak, it’s difficult to speculate as to what happened. It may be that she had been hit by a car.
“Otters are making a great comeback so it’s really important for us to keep on top of it.”
You can watch a video of Bubble and Squeak here.