Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History

BioFortean Review, (November 2006, No. 2)

Historical Record of a Giant Otter from Maine

Chad Arment

Oversized otters are occasionally suggested as possible candidates for certain aquatic mystery animals. This newspaper account suggests that North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) have the genetic potential to achieve larger sizes, or at least may historically have done so.

Obviously, when we think Giant Otter, we are thinking of the South American species, Pteronura brasiliensis, which is recognized to reach lengths of 1800 mm or 70 inches (just under six feet). While the North American river otter averages smaller sizes, it is recognized to have an upper length of about 60 inches. In the following article from the Portland, Maine, Press Herald, December 4, 1949, a trapper caught an otter with a pelt of 66 inches, and may have been larger in life.

Giant Otter Trapped at Portage
Believed Biggest Ever Caught

Portage, Dec. 3. (AP)—The otter Walter Bolstridge trapped may have been the giant of the otter world.

Game Warden Wilfred L. Atkins said the animal's glossy pelt measured 66 inches long. The average otter is about 40 inches.

And Bolstridge said that before being skinned, the huge otter was about 76 inches long from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail.

State Fish and Game Commissioner George J. Stoble said an otter as big as Bolstridge's trophy may be a world's record.

Bolstridge caught the otter recently on the Big Fish River, between Portage and St. Froid Lakes, in Northern Maine.

Mink trapping was disappointing in the area in the month-long season that ended last Wednesday. Rain and snow hampered trappers.

At Hollis, Alfred Hall, 78-year-old coon hunter, also took a good-sized otter this week that his coon dogs had tracked for some distance at night through the brush.

The dogs cornered the animals in a thicket and Hall shot it with a 22-caliber pistol, after one of his two hounds had been badly mauled by the animal.


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