Otter vs. Triathlete: An Unfair Fight

Staff Writer
An otherwise cute otter attacks a Minnesota triathlete on a training swim

Put this in the "When Animals Attack Athletes" file. A few days back we mentioned a pack of raccoons that attacked a runner in Lakewood, WA., sending her to the hospital with 16 bite wounds, including two that required staples. Now we have more alarming news from the fuzzy, cute animal kingdom. Last week, a Duluth, MN, triathlete was attacked by a river otter while swimming in a small, tannin-stained lake. Leah Prudhomme, 33, was on a half-mile training swim in Island Lake, when she felt fangs pierce her legs. The unseen animal attacked ferociously, biting her legs, feet and back. A few times between attacks, Prudhomme's assailant surfaced nearby, showing off its "long tapered tail, small beady eyes and gray head." It was too cute to be a muskrat, beaver or muskellunge, as she originally suspected. In fact, it was an otter.

By the time a friend pulled Prudhomme into his boat and to safety, she'd been bitten 25 times, with some of the puncture wounds two inches deep. Lucky for her, she'd worn a wetsuit for the swim, which likely saved Prudhomme from further injury. She was treated at a local hospital and given rabies and tetanus shots. Prudhomme, a veteran who's competed in about 50 triathlons and road races, is prepping for the Duluth Triathlon which is next month in the very same lake. Conservationists and doctors were "baffled" by the rare attack and surmised that the otter must've had rabies or was a mother protecting young pups. Let's hope, for Prudhomme's sake and for ours, that it's the latter. Given the recent raccoon pack attack, though, it's also possible that this could be the beginning of some kind of strange, terrible Orwellian uprising by the cute, furry wild animals of the world. God help us all.

StarTribune, via Backcountry's The Goat.