Rabid Otter Bites 74-Year-Old Florida Man 41 Times


Sep. 27 2023, Published 12:26 p.m. ET

It seems like unprovoked animal attacks have been increasing, which some believe is linked to the climate crisis. People have been gored by bison, attacked by stingrays, and killed by alligators. Even cute, playful little otters are turning their rage onto humans.

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A Florida man knows just how vicious an otter can be after he was attacked and bitten by a rapid otter. Here is the full story on the rabid otter attack in Florida.

Two otters.
Source: Getty Images
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In Florida, an elderly man was feeding ducks when a rabid otter attacked him.

In September 2023, Jupiter, Fla. resident Joseph Scaglione, 74, was feeding the birds behind his home and thought it was strange when they started to scatter. At first, he thought they might have been spooked by a hawk, reports WPBF News.

“Looked up, not hawk. Look back down, and there was a brown head sticking up over the bank of the pond,” Scaglione told WPBF. At first, Scaglione didn’t realize it was an otter until the animal rushed towards him.

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“I didn’t turn my back because it’s a bad idea to turn your back on a wild animal,” Scaglione told NBC News. He tried to close a gate to his yard to block the otter, but it was too late. The otter pounced on him, causing him to fall onto the ground, WPBF reports.

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Joseph Scaglione sustained wounds and is being treated for rabies.

The otter bit Scaglione 41 times on his legs, hands, and wrists. “He grabbed me by in-between the index finger and the thumb, and he latched on, and he wouldn’t let go,” he told NBC News. In other news reports, Scaglione said his pinky finger sustained the most damage from two puncture wounds.

Scaglione said he grabbed the otter by the throat and tried to kill the animal, but the creature got away. The otter ran through the neighborhood and reportedly also attacked a dog on a walk with a couple and their baby, the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control told WPBF News.

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One aggressive-looking otter in the water.
Source: Getty Images

Neighbor Susan Brandt got a video of the otter on her porch. She told NBC News that the animal was walking with difficulty and convulsing several times. “Oh, it was so cute. We didn’t want it to be rabid, but it just looked like there was something wrong. Like it was ill the way it was acting,” she said.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system, eventually causing brain disease and death. It is transmitted to other animals and humans through a bite from a rabid animal.

Two otters in a grassy field.
Source: Getty Images
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Neighbors were eventually able to trap the otter under a recycling bin. The Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control captured the otter and conducted a rabies test. The otter tested positive for rabies, which the otter likely got from an infected raccoon, said Capt. David Walesky, assistant director of the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.

Scaglione is being treated for rabies, and the dog that was bit was also taken to the vet for treatment. The rabid otter was euthanized.

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