Swimmer attacked by otters in California lake: ‘They wanted to kill me’

Otter Attack
Credits: KCRA

Though otters are typically considered predators, reports of attacks by these creatures are exceedingly rare. However, a remarkable incident occurred last month when a Californian man found himself bitten at least a dozen times by otters while swimming at his family cabin.

He went on to claim that the adorable-looking creatures wanted to “kill” him. Matt Leffers confirmed that the incident occurred at Serene Lakes in Placer County in northern California on September 3.

Matt Leffers recounted the wild incident

“These things were so aggressive that, literally, I felt like they wanted to kill me,” Leffers told KCRA of the aquatic mammals. “It is by far the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in my life. Nothing even comes close.”

He was the first bit on his calf, and before being bit again. “And then I started swimming fast but there was the otter, popped up right in front of me and then I was bit again,” Leffers recalled.

Leffers was recused by his wife

The swimmer’s wife came to his rescue on a paddleboard. He was then transported to the hospital for treatment. Leffers had reportedly suffered approximately 40 puncture wounds inflicted by the sharp teeth of the otters.

The otter attack left the victim covered in visible scars. This comes two months after another swimmer was bit by an otter in the same lake, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “I think the fact that I’m the second person attacked here this summer, it’s a big red flag,” Leffers noted.

Leffers, who claimed to have been swimming in that lake for 30 years, had never experienced a wild attack like that one until September 2023.

Leffers wants the otters to be removed from the lake

“They won’t normally attack people or larger animals. However, they will defend their territory if they feel threatened, whether that’s a real threat or perceived threat,” said Peter Tira, a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Leffers criticized the agency’s response to the otter incident as “wimpy” and strongly advocated the removal of these animals from the lake “before somebody gets killed.”