After my first experience at an animal café (Owl Café Tenjin), I was interested in visiting another animal café. After having a look around, I was able to find Kotsumate Fukuoka Daimyo, an otter café in Fukuoka’s Daimyo area (next to Tenjin). Not only do they have otters, but they also have sugar gliders, snakes and leopard geckos.
A short walk from Tenjin station (or Tenjin Bike Locker if you decide to bike), the otter café is on the third floor of its building on the front side.
Entering the Otter Café
When you get to the door, you have to remove your shoes and wear the slippers that the café provides. You also must disinfect your hands. After this step, the staff will show you to the room on the left (the larger one on the right is a back room where the animals live). This is where you decide what kind of experience you will have.
There are two types of tickets you can buy from the machine: the 30-minute experience or the 60-minute one. You can also buy food to feed the animals if you would like. However this is not required. Unlike the Owl Café, there are no food and drinks here. Instead you focus completely on the animals.
Once you have given the café worker your ticket, the experience begins. We decided to go for the 1-hour experience since it worked so well at the owl café. After we put our things in a cubby (mammals are very curious animals who may decide to go through your pockets. Owls just aren’t that interested), the staff introduced us to the types of animals and went through some basic rules. After that, the fun really began.
The café’s room is very small – only about 8 small stools and two small playpens. Rather than being for children (even if they have literal tonnes of toys), this is where you interact with one of the café’s nine otters. When we arrived there was a mother/daughter pair in one and an adult in the other, so we decided to see the sugar gliders first.
Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) are small rodent-like marsupials that come from Australia originally, although they are popular pets as well. This also includes Japan. Sugar gliders are nocturnal animals, so I was surprised to hear that a café that is only open until 3 p.m. has sugar gliders. They usually become active after 6 p.m. or so.
As you might expect, the sugar gliders wanted to sleep. There was one who woke up probably due to the otters in the backroom, one of whom was crying for attention and others were playing and making a lot of noise. Because she was awake, she decided to interact with us. In this cafe, the sugar gliders are in pouches where they sleep. They are similar to how the sugar glider would sleep in nature.
The first sugar glider we interacted with was completely white. While awake, she obviously just wanted to sniff our hands to see if we had food and then get comfortable to continue her beauty sleep. After about a minute or so, the café worker took her back so we wouldn’t stress her.
Afterwards, we interacted with two more sugar gliders who were in a pouch together (and related in some way, although I didn’t catch how). While they were awake (again due to the loud otters), they were not very active. Instead one decided to climb up my arm, onto my back and settle between me and the wall where it was not as bright.
I really enjoyed my interactions with the sugar gliders. They were very relaxed and were so soft! They were also inquisitive in a very laid-back way. A couple of nibbles established that my fingers weren’t food. After that I was a good person to climb on to try to find a quieter place.
The Otters at the otter café
After about 10 minutes or so with the sugar gliders, the woman and her daughter finished their experience with the otter and left. As a result there was a free pen. The café worker moved the previous otter to the back room to give her a break and brought another one back. He had us go into the pen first, gave us a plastic medicine cup with some sticks of food in and then turned the otter loose.
The otter immediately began exploring the pen. It obviously knew it well but it was exploring any changes. During its exploration, it was happy to find a piece of paper – its favourite new toy apparently.
The otter was extremely active and quite happy to entertain himself. He was very unfussed that there were people in the pen with him. He would play by himself or come close to us if he wanted to. It was a very interesting experience. He was very independent and doing his own thing – until one of us touched the food. Then he was all over us trying to get the food as quickly as possible.
What struck me about the otter was how soft the otter was. I had always thought that since otters are aquatic that their fur would be more oily and/or course but in fact, it was so soft. Their fur is very dense to keep them warm in the water; they are the only marine mammals without any kind of blubber layer, so they need their thick coat.
Leopard Gecko and snake
After the otter was finished exploring and interested in being away from humans, we left the playpen and interacted with the reptiles. There were multiple leopard geckos in residence in the otter café. Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) range between Iran and India. We both had one placed each in our hands. The geckos were very happy to just sit there.
My initial reaction was surprise actually. Reptiles can be exothermic (cold-blooded) or mesothermic (medium-blooded, between cold- and warm-blooded); I assumed that leopard geckos were more likely to be mesothermic. So imagine my surprise when this gecko as large as my hand is sitting there and his stomach is almost cold! In fact, he was making my hand cold as well. The initial shock quickly wore off though. His temperature was only slightly below the ambient temperature.
After a couple of minutes of sitting there, the staff switched the leopard geckos for an adorable little snake. I will not include any images because I know many people do not like snakes. She was very thin but very long. I would say about the diameter of my smallest finger (I have slightly smaller than average-sized hands for a nearly 30-year-old male). However, she was about 2 feet/610 cm long. She was also a beautiful rose-pink colour. She wanted to do a bit of exploring on our arms and then settled around my arm to survey the rest of the room (i.e. her domain).
Visiting Kotsumate Fukuoka Daimyo
Kotsumate Fukuoka Daimyo is located here. An adult ticket for 30 minutes costs ￥1,300 and 60 minutes costs ￥2,600. Food is extra and costs a couple of hundred yen (I think the most expensive was ￥400). Space is limited although you don’t need a reservation. Also make sure to take cash with you. The ticket machine is cash-only.
While it was very small, I enjoyed my experience here. When you enter you will notice a bit of an “animal” small – mammals are apparently notorious for not being the best-smelling of animals. However, you will quickly adjust to the smell. I was also able to take a quick peek in the back room (the door was open on the way out) and it looked like a clean environment. There were a couple of medium-sized dog kennels that I assume were for the otters (cafe, transport, etc.) but I did not see any otters in that room (although I heard them), so I am not sure what condition they are kept. I assume from the otter that I saw though, they are well-treated and looked after.
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