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Otterly adorable: Pair are so inseparable she takes him shopping

‘He thinks I’m his mum’:
Daphne Neville with Rudi at
her home in Stroud. The 82-year-old, who keeps rescued
animals, takes the otter to
town on her shoulders
PICTURES: JAKE McPHERSON/SWNS

SOME people can’t bear to be parted from their dog, others form strong bonds with cats or horses.

But Daphne Neville is smitten with otters — and is often seen walking around town with one on her shoulders. The 82-year-old has been raising the river mammals for nearly 40 years and takes current pet Rudi to the shops.

She said: ‘I’ve had him since he was three weeks old — he thinks I’m his mum. I’ve shown people you can have incredible bonds with these creatures. Touch wood, we’ve never had an accident.’

Ms Neville, an actress, adopted her first otter in 1980, when the species had been decimated by river pollution. A friend suggested her converted water mill near Stroud, Gloucestershire, where she also keeps rescued swans, offered the perfect conditions.

Otters are classed as dangerous wild animals because of their 36 sharp teeth, but Ms Neville has taken Rudi to children’s parties without a problem.

‘All my otters have been immaculately behaved. I wouldn’t dream of taking them out otherwise,’ she said.