Leah Prudhomme’s legs were left with some nasty cuts and bruises after the 33-year-old triathlete was bitten more than 25 times, leaving her with some bite marks that were 2 inches deep.
Prudhomme was swimming in a lake in Duluth when the otter attacked. She had no idea what it was at first – she considered muskrats, beavers, or even a muskie – yet it proved persistent:
“It just kept coming after me. You never knew where it was going to bite next. I couldn’t believe Duluth had an otter.”
Prudhomme finally recognized her foe when she noticed the animal’s head pop up a few feet away; that’s when the otter’s distinctive tapered tail made an appearance.
Otter attacks remain an extremely rare occurence, and Leah’s experience has baffled experts who spoke to KSTP. Mike Scott, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Duluth, said:
“I’ve never seen or heard of it before. We’ve got otters everywhere … lakes, streams. Most times, [swimmers] wouldn’t even know it. Otters usually stay away.”
Prudhomme, who’s done about 50 triathlon and road races, has swam in the same lake without problems on countless occasions, though she has always been wary of what she shares the water with:
“You always wonder, ‘oh my gosh what could happen out there.’ Already, you’re trying to get over your fear of fish or whatnot. You can’t even see your hands below.”
Following her ordeal, Prudhomme was helped aboard her father’s boat and taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, where doctors cleaned the 25 bite marks and gave her rabies and tetanus shots. Once home in the Twin Cities, Prudhomme received more rabies shots on Saturday.
Her wetsuit isn’t in such good condition – Prudhomme says it’s now shredded to ribbons. But she’s not letting the experience deter her from her passion:
“I’m scared, but it’s one of those things you don’t want to let get the best of you,” she said. “It’s not like I’ll be bitten by another otter.”
Here’s a full report about Prudhomme’s dicey otter moment: