I feel I have somewhat neglected my urban warrior collective in my guidance notes for survival in the 21st century. Time to rectify matters.

T’internet is awash with cute photographs of otters. Sea otters in particular are portrayed as all lovable and cuddlywuddly. Well hold you hard me hearties before you dash off and get a pet one.

If you’ve ever read Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, you’ll know full well that otters are fearsomely efficient hunters. In Ring of Bright Water, Gavin Maxwell reports a nasty run-in with his per otter Mijbil. And now some worrying news from the US over the weekend.

Two teenage boys were taking a swim in Shasta Lake in California, jumping off rocks. They were attacked by a group of three to five otters, which actually chased them as they fled. Otters in the hood. Anyway, the boys were hospitalised and given anti-rabies shots. I never knew otters could carry rabies. One more reason to give them a wide birth, though apparently it’s rare for them to be infected, but it does happen.

Afterwards the ER staff printed out an ‘otter lineup’ so the boys could identify the perps. Oh and the battered teens have been offering to sign ottergraphs for their pals. Silver lining.

Now you may think the average crusty is a bit averse to the idea of water anyway and this hazard might not be too much of an issue, but if one does fancy getting his dreads wet, second thoughts may be in order, because things have been far worse than the nibbled toes and legs of Shasta Lake.

We go back now to 2014, in Washington state. A four-foot-long male otter attacked an eight-year-old boy and his grandmother while they were swimming in a river. The boy nearly died, and the plucky gran was badly hurt too.

Let’s be careful out there.