Otter

Lutra lutra

About

Otters are one of our top predators, feeding mainly on fish, waterbirds, amphibians and crustaceans. Otters have their cubs in underground burrows, known as a 'holt'. Excellent and lithe swimmers, the young are in the water by 10 weeks of age. Otters are well suited to a life on the water as they have webbed feet, dense fur to keep them warm and can close their ears and nose when underwater. For the best chances of seeing an otter in the wild, try the west coast of Scotland, the Shetland Islands or some parts of Wales, northern England and East Anglia.

How to identify

Otters can be distinguished from Mink by their much larger size, more powerful body, paler grey-brown fur, broader snout and broader, pale chest and throat.

Where to find it

A rare but widespread animal, now found almost throughout the country, but absent from parts of central and southern England, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • Novermber
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

The Otter was nearly wiped out during the 20th century through a combination of pesticide poisoning, persecution and habitat destruction. Luckily, they are now on the increase again thanks to the cleaning up of our rivers and waterways, the banning of harmful pesticides and hunting, and numerous conservation projects across the country to provide suitable habitat for them. The Wildlife Trusts have led the way on such projects, but many local Trusts still need help with habitat improvements, holt-building and surveying to encourage these wonderful creatures back to our rivers. So why not have a go at volunteering for your local Trust? You'll make new friends, learn new skills and help wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Otter
Latin name
Lutra lutra
Category
Mammals
Statistics
Length: 90cm plus a tail of 45cm Weight: 10kg Average lifespan: up to 10 years
Conservation status
Classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Listed under CITES Appendix 1, protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.