I’ve lived in South Devon my whole life and love what it has to offer. There are so many attractions to visit with the family or like me, just a nice day out with my wife. With so many local attractions, it’s impossible to see them all in a weekend or even a week and even as a local, I’m still visiting places for the first time. I recently visited Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Otter Sanctuary (yes, otters and butterflies in the same place). Read on to see my verdict and to see some great photos and video.
Devon Otters Times and Prices
After visiting Living Coasts and falling in love with the Otters they had, I was excited to see the different Otter breeds on show at the Otter Sanctuary. The main consideration before you visit, is the time. The Otters love their sleep and are most active during feeding times. We arrived just before 2:00pm, which luckily meant we were able to see the 2:00pm feed. Other feeding times are 11:30am and 4:00pm. Visiting between these times will more than likely mean that they will be sleeping. On the plus side, your ticket allows you to return as often as you like during the day; not bad for £8.50 (adult ticket). To see other price information visit the Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies website.
The Otters are the Stars
In four enclosures, there are three breeds of Otters to be seen (eight in total at the time of writing this blog). The Otters there come and go, depending on their circumstances; some are bred there, some have been rescued and some are on breeding programmes – young or old, they are all cute and have individual personalities.
You can see in the video that they are a playful bunch and enjoy a tumble in the water. They were quite happy putting on a show for us in the underground viewing area before they retreated to their holt to have a sleep.
Otter Feeding Experience
If you want to get extra close, you can pay for the ultimate Otter experience. At £150 for a couple, the experience includes a tour with expert keeper Tim, cleaning out the enclosures and Otter holts and preparing the Otter food before the first feeding time at 11:00am. Then comes the special part – feeding time! As you can see from the photo above, you are allowed in the enclosure with the Otters to hand feed them. The Otters seem no different to your family cat or dog at this point, calling you to feed them and jumping on your lap in excitement.
After visiting all of the enclosures with the rest of the visitors, listening to the expert knowledge of Tim, more affectionately known as ‘The Legend’ (You’ll have to ask him why he has that name) you then have free time to visit the Otters again and explore the greenhouse where the Butterflies are housed.
The butterfly Farm is in a giant greenhouse. It was very hot and humid, so be prepared and remove any heavy coats/jackets and get ready for your cameras and glasses to steam up. It seems like you’re experiencing something from a Disney film with the amount of butterflies fluttering around you as you walk around their enclosure. It really is quite special.The most impressive sight was the cocoons hanging from a branch – some had hatched and some were waiting to hatch. The colours were amazing and it’s something you don’t often see in the wild, if at all. It was nice to walk around and see the Butterflies up close and even seeing them feed on several feeding trays that were dotted around the enclosure. This can be seen in the video above.
More than Otters and Butterflies
To my surprise, there were also several Terrapins in the greenhouse, as well as Iguanas and Koi Karp. This was not expected but was a really nice bonus.
The surprises kept coming! Once finished with the Otters and Butterflies, heading back towards the main entrance, we came across some Costa Rican leafcutter ants (yes ants!). What other creatures would we find before leaving?! This exhibit was great. You get to see the ants hard at work whilst the information posted around you is great to learn a bit more about them. (See more pictures in the gallery below).
If you are looking for things to do in South Devon, whether with your family, with friends or even by yourself, Buckfastleigh Butterflies and Devon Otter Sanctuary is a great way to experience nature, getting up close to the inhabitants who live there. Plan your trip around the feeding times and you’re sure to have a great time. Save some money for the gift shop too. All money raised goes back into the running of the sanctuary and besides… who can resist taking one of these guys home with them?
If you enjoyed reading about this Devon attraction, take a look at the Out & About section of our blog for plenty more information about our local attractions.