Otters break into Bukit Timah residence for the second time, kill 10 arowana worth $1,000 each but leave them uneaten

After otters first attacked their koi, the family had chosen to rear arowanas because they have 'many bones' and they felt the otters wouldn't like that.

Only six of the 16 arowana, which cost at least $1,000 each, survived the ordeal after otters attacked the same Bukit Timah home. (Photo: Tham Yuen Ying)
Only six of the 16 arowana, which cost at least $1,000 each, survived the ordeal after otters attacked the same Bukit Timah home. (Photo: Tham Yuen Ying)

SINGAPORE — Local icon or a menace for fish owners? The Singapore otters may be a sight for some, but definitely not for this homeowner, after her residence was targeted for the second time in three years

At about 7am on Wednesday (17 Jan), eight otters attacked the arowana in the fish ponds of Tham Yuen Ying's residence in Bukit Timah. Only six of the 16 fish, which cost at least $1,000 each, survived the ordeal.

Otters first broke into her home in 2022 and assaulted the 40-odd koi her family owned. Some of the koi had been with her for more than 15 years, and were worth approximately $20,000 in total. She then said at the time that the family wouldn’t rear any fish again.

However, in March last year, they decided to try again, this time with arowanas.

“We chose arowanas as they have many bones, and we felt that otters wouldn’t like that,” Tham told Shin Min Daily News.

That didn't stop the otters, however. The perpetrators were caught in action by the family’s helper, but she didn’t dare to go near them, allowing the otters to get away.

Photos shared on Facebook show the fish being haphazardly left around the pond by otters and even along the hallway of the house.

“It is very heartbreaking to see our innocent fish being killed for fun. None were eaten. They only picked out the eyes, bit their chins and left them without fins,” wrote Tham.

Otter incidents not uncommon in Singapore

Other than eating fish, Singapore’s otters have bitten several people, including one assault on a British man at the Botanic Gardens, and stopped traffic as they attempt crossing Orchard Road.

The National Parks Board said in 2022 that they may relocate or sterilise otters in Singapore in the long term as its population had increased to about 170 islandwide.

They also advise homeowners to protect themselves and their property from potential otter attacks by identifying possible entry points, such as 10cm gaps in fencing or under gates, and blocking them off. Fish owners can also fence off their ponds and use netting or panels to cover their ponds.

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