Swimmer Attacked by Otters in Northern California Says It 'Felt Like They Wanted to Kill Me'

A California man says he was bit by two otters a dozen times at Serene Lakes in Placer County

<p>Getty</p> An otter is pictured in California


An otter is pictured in California

A California man was left with about 40 puncture wounds after he says two otters attacked him while he was swimming at his family cabin last month.

While going for a dip at Serene Lakes in Placer County in September, Matt Leffers was bit in his calf, before being bit again, he told KCRA. After swimming fast to get away from whatever was attacking him, Leffers told the outlet that an otter then "popped up right in front" of him before biting him some more.

“These things were so aggressive that, literally, I felt like they wanted to kill me,” he said.

“It is by far the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in my life. Nothing even comes close.”

Related: Rare Otter Attack Seriously Injures Montana Woman: 'I Have Lost Almost Half of My Right Ear'

Leffers, whose suffered 40 puncture wounds, explained that two otters bit him over a dozen times while in the water. He was eventually taken to the hospital after his wife rescued him via paddleboat, KCRA notes.

Images shared with the outlet show Leffers' body with gashes on both his arms and legs. The California man added that it was a "big red flag" that he wasn't the only person attacked in the area in recent months — citing another otter attack that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told KCRA took place in July at Feather River. A department spokesperson also told the outlet that otters attacked dogs in Redding, California recently too, and that river otters "won’t normally attack people or larger animals" but will "defend their territory if they feel threatened."

Fish and Wildlife wrote a letter in late September to the Serene Lakes community as well, according to the outlet, which read that the otter presence and behavior was likely caused by an "abundance of fish in the lake."

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“We recommend reducing the frequency of fish stocking and limiting stocking to the non-swimming section of the lake," the letter reportedly read. "The goal of managing the lakes’ fisheries in this way is to reduce the amount of food available in the swimming area, creating an area that is less attractive to the otters. Additionally, we advise the community members to avoid swimming in the lakes for the remainder of this season, and to increase educational signage in frequently used public areas.”

Leffers argued to KCRA that the department needed to "mitigate the situation." The department will reportedly next come up with a strategy after learning more about the otters.

Related: 3 Women Injured in ‘Rare’ Otter Attack While Floating on Montana River

News of Leffers' otter attack comes two months after a Montana woman and her friends were attacked by otters while tubing in a river. Jen Royce opened up about the Aug. 2 attack at Jefferson River on Facebook, writing that she was bit in the arms, legs, thighs, ankles and both ears. Her ears were also visibly damaged.

“Without ANY exaggeration, God’s honest truth, I did not think I was going to make it out of that river,” Royce wrote to Facebook this summer. “I had no clue if my friends were going to make it out. But by the grace of God we did.”

Montana Fish and Wildlife shared in a statement at the time that otters “can be protective of themselves and their young, especially at close distances."

“Being aware and keeping your distance can help avoid dangerous encounters, reduce stress for wildlife, and promote healthy animal behavior. If you are attacked by an otter, fight back, get away and out of the water, and seek medical attention.”

As NBC News reported, a rabid otter in Florida also bit a man and his dog while he was feeding ducks at a pond near his home in September. Joseph Scaglione, 74, was bitten in both his arms and his legs.

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