Razor sharp teeth and claws were used to carve into a gruesome Halloween treat as 15 Oriental short-clawed otters put on a spooktacular display of natural foraging at Edinburgh Zoo.
As a spooky surprise to celebrate the holiday, keepers stuffed pumpkins with a creepy and crawling concoction of meat and insects for a special Halloween-themed enrichment as part of their daily feed.
The otters, who are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, were seen putting their extremely agile front paws into the mouths and eyes of the pumpkins to tear out the treat.
Jo Elliot, the zoo’s animal collection manager, said: “Halloween is one of our favourite opportunities to come up with fun, new enrichment ideas for our animals to enjoy.
“By packing their usual feed into pumpkins, the Halloween enrichment provides both mental and physical stimulation for our otters.
“As they are really inquisitive, all 15 of our otters came out of their dens to take a closer look – even the pups, who were born in June joined in with the fun. Although, they did just quickly grab some meat and ran back to the safety of their heated dens to enjoy their gory breakfast in peace!
“Our Oriental short-clawed otters may be the smallest species of otter in the world but that doesn’t mean they are your typical cute and cuddly mammal.
“Along with their sharp teeth, they have sharp claws on their dexterous paws and slightly webbed fingers which makes them great hunters; in the wild they prey on mice and other small mammals, and can also pry into clams and crabs.”
Members of the public will be given the opportunity to celebrate Halloween by making enrichment items for many of the zoo’s inhabitants, including the squirrel and capuchin monkeys and the sun bears, at the Enrichment Day on Saturday.