Published July 18, 2012
DULUTH, Minn. – A Minnesota swimmer had to get rabies shots after she was bitten 25 times by an otter while training for a triathlon in a lake near Duluth.
The Duluth News Tribune reports 33-year-old Leah Prudhomme had just finished swimming around an island and was heading back to shore when she felt fangs pierce her leg.
She struggled to get away as the mystery attacker bit her 25 times, leaving puncture wounds as deep as two inches on her legs, arms and back.
“It just kept coming after me,” Prudhomme told The Duluth News Tribune. “You never knew where it was going to bite next.”
Prudhomme told the paper she was shocked when the animal's head popped out the water and she realized she was being attacked by an otter.
“I couldn’t believe Duluth had an otter,” she said.
Prudhomme was rescued by a friend, who saw her struggling and picked her up in a boat. She was taken to a hospital, where she received multiple rounds of rabies shots.
Experts say they are baffled as to why the otter was so aggressive, saying it must have somehow felt threatened or worse, have rabies.
“I’ve never seen or heard of it before,” said Mike Scott, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Duluth told The Duluth News Tribune. “We’ve got otters everywhere ... lakes, streams. Most times, (swimmers) wouldn’t even know it. Otters usually stay away.”
Prudhomme says she is glad she decided to wear her wet suit, which was shredded during the attack, because she believes her injuries would have been much worse without it.
She says she is still planning on doing the Duluth Triathlon, which is being held next month on the same lake.
“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.”