They are fast, naturally secretive and usually nocturnal. Newborns are only about 12cm long but grow quickly and can swim at three months. The marine otter is found along the western coast of the South American continent, with patchy distribution due to some unsuitable habitat and increased human occupation. But don't mistakenly call these beasts 'sea otters' – they are still our native otter, and not the different North American sea otter. Even though there are more of them about otters are still hard to spot. Beautiful, sleek and playful, otters are a joy to watch as they twist and dive in the water. Otters are carnivorous mustelids in the Lutrinae subfamily. As of 2011, they can be found in every English county, including some urban rivers. This otter is found in coastal areas and on larger inland rivers across Southeast Asia (Myanmar, South Thailand, Cambodia, South Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, including Sumatra and Borneo). Otters consume mainly fish but many people think that they eat plants and berries. Because otters eat mainly fish, you’ll generally find them in areas where there are plenty of this food source. The presence of otters tells us a lot about the health of our wetlands, the healthier a wetland and our waterways are the more otters it will be supporting. Also known as Oriental small-clowed otters, these otters are often seen in zoos, which makes them one of the more familiar otter species for many people. Thanks! They are a greeny black colour and are often described as smelling like flowers! Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 – The People’s Choice Award, Namibian fishing laws cut seabird deaths by more than 90%, Hippo guide: species facts and the best places to see in the wild. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Known for their playfulness, otters are found all over the world including the UK. They are creatures of habit and tend to follow the same routes, travelling as much on land as they do in water. The South Korean population is endangered. The South American river otter can be found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats throughout Chile and Argentina. Following a period of serious decline between the 1950s and 1970s when the species was driven to near extinction in some areas, these water-dwelling mammals have made a comeback in every county in England and beyond. It is common in Lake Victoria and Zambia, but not in some lakes and rivers, such as in the Zambezi below the Victoria Falls. Otters declined catastrophically throughout England in the late 1950s. The Scottish population is estimated to be around 8000 otters. Sea otters are native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Otters leave spraints in prominent places, such as fallen trees, weirs and bridges, as 'scented messages', helping them to find mates and defend territories. © Ariadne Van Zandbergen/GettyUntil recently, the spotted-necked otter was considered to be part of the Lutra genus, but it is now placed in the Hydrictus genus. Otters are fascinating animals as well as being adorable. In the past, this species was widely employed throughout its range by fishermen, with trained animals being highly valued. For coastal dwelling otters, oil spill is a real danger. Keep an ear out for scrabbling, splashing and squeaking. This soft layer closest to their skin traps air, which gives good insulation. Few animals among Britain’s native wildlife are as endearing as otters. The giant otter is found in South America in a range of countries including Peru, Venezuela and Brazil. Ask anyone what their favourite wetland animal is and many will say it’s an otter. In Norfolk by the 1970s most traditional otter sites were deserted and whole river systems no longer supported any otters. They have two types of fur, … Type: Mammal Location: One of the widest distributions of a UK mammal species, the Eurasian Otter is found throughout Europe, eastern Russia and China, south and south east Asia and north Africa. Author Miriam Darlington, in her book Otter Country, described the hide at Kylerhea on Skye as an ‘Otter haven’. agreeing to use our cookies. Please visit our updated privacy Keep an eye out for them: Today an otter’s main threat is from what we put in the water. On the Shetland Islands, some otters have been known to abandon fishing in favour of rabbit hunting. Otters are known to compete against foreign species such as mink that have been devastating populations of small native mammals such as the water vole, which has declined to … Other sea lochs along Scotland's west coast are similarly rich in otters, which can be seen foraging for food on the water's edge. Status: Near Threatened … Otter cubs only open their eyes about five weeks after they are born. Otters have five claws so it’s easy to tell an otter footprint from most other animals. Posted in: However, following a series of escapes and releases, by 1956 it was apparent that there was a self-sustaining feral population. In freshwater they feed on trout and salmon. They breed all year round, but in the UK otters tend to have their young (called pups) in the summer months so at this time of year, you stand a better chance of glimpsing a sight of them in rivers and coastal wetlands. The longer outer layer of guard hairs is waterproof, and stops water touching their skin at all, which means they don't lose heat that way either from the water leaching away precious body warmth, When it’s underwater the otter can close its ears and nose but can only hold its breath for about 30 seconds. Threats to their recovery include habitat loss, severe flooding, and road traffic. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. They are responsible to a Programme Board which represents the relevant governments and agencies of England, Scotland and Wales. In the UK IOSF is the only charity solely dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters based on years of scientific research in the UK and around the world. Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! You can discover some of our favourite otter facts here: Editorial and digital co-ordinator at BBC Wildlife Magazine, and countryfile.com. The Minch waters between Skye and the Outer Hebrides, where many otters live, is still a major tanker route. Cubs are usually born in a holt in a bank, or between rocks or tree roots. Where do otters live? There are 13 different types of otter, including river, sea, giant, African clawless and hairy nosed otter. you can book a tour with Richard Shucksmith, co-author of ‘Otters in Shetland: the Tale of the Draatsi’ Are otters a native species to Shetland? It is found most often in areas with protection from the most severe ocean winds, such as rocky coastlines, thick kelp forests, and barrier reefs. While hunting and habitat loss played a part, pollution of our waterways from agricultural chemicals was devastating to otter populations. The Neotropical otter is the greatest generalist of all otter species, inhabiting a range of habitats including wastewater treatment plants, rice and sugar cane plantations, drainage ditches and swamps to cold, glacial lakes in the Andes of Ecuador. Wetland wildlife. Otters are regularly recorded here, and there is also the chance to see large numbers of wildfowl in winter. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). Male Otters are called boars, females are sows, and the offspring are pups. Visit mammal.org.uk. The indented coast lines, rich in seaweed and with freshwater nearby in rivers and pools make the perfect otter habitat. At WWT we have wild otters living on all our reserves. Lutrinae is a branch of the Mustelidae family , which also includes weasels , badgers , mink , and wolverines , among other animals. Their favourite habitats include wetlands, rivers and coastlines. The season for mating depends on the region where they live. The fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other otters, and they use scent to communicate both within the otter species, and with other animals. Mating occurs at any time of the year and females give birth to 2 – 3 cubs, usually between May and August. This species can grow quite large, almost as big as the giant otter, and weigh up to 18kg. Though they typically forage alone, sea otters tend to rest together and link arms in single-sex groups called rafts. Currently stable populations exist in parts of the Russian east coast, Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and California, with reports of recolonisations in Mexico and Japan. Unlike Otters, Mink are a non-native species (see Nature Notes, 6th September 2019), imported to the UK from the late 1920s, and farmed for their fur. The males are the ones that seek out the females when they are ready to mate. We are a Devon-based charity dedicated to protecting and promoting a positive understanding of the European otter and its conservation.We want everyone to be able to engage with and appreciate these beautiful animals, and we work hard to raise awareness, educate, and share information in as many ways as possible! @slimbridge_wild @WWTSlimbridge pic.twitter.com/nJh84PUOpM, A couple of shots of the otter at WWT Llanelli @WWTLlanelli @WWTworldwide @WWTconservation @strictlysophie @wildlife_uk pic.twitter.com/9YTWHJ8RPO. Eurasian otters are indigenous to the UK and can be found in either fresh or salt water, although it’s usually known as the river otter for the obvious reason. They also regularly crop up on the Llanelli reserve in Wales. Look for a muddy, semi-circular slide into the river. Meet the adorable members of the otter family from around the world. The species of otter that occurs in Ireland is called the Eurasian otter and is found in Europe and across Asia to China and Japan. They are definitely meat eaters. policy for further information about how we use your personal information. By the 1970s, otters were restricted mainly to Scotland, especially the islands and the north-west coast, western Wales, parts of East Anglia and the West Country (though they remained common and widespread also in Ireland). This species is the most widely distributed of all the otters, ranging through Eurasia up to the Arctic Circle, from Ireland to Kamchatka, and south to North Africa, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Male otters are known as “dogs”, females are “bitches” and the offspring are “pups”. Although the Eurasian otter isn’t a marine animal (don’t confuse it with a sea otter, which are only found in the Pacific) because it can’t survive without fresh water, they are often found in coastal habitats as well as lakes, rivers and streams. In India, the species is distributed in the Himalayan foothills, southern Western Ghats and the central Indian landscape. The return of the otter to waterways across the country is one of the UK’s top conservation success stories. They also eat crustaceans, frogs and even small water birds. Otter causing great excitement in the entrance ditch at Slimbridge WWT this lunchtime! Otters are carnivorous mammals in the subfamily Lutrinae. They occur throughout Northern Ireland in both freshwater and coastal habitats. This species is known to mostly feed on beetles, worms, birds and other small mammals. The position of its eyes are high on its head which means it can see out of the water whilst the rest of its body stays submerged below - like a hippo! Barton Broad - The largest Broad in the Ant Valley. At Slimbridge there are regular otter visitors to the Kingfisher Hide and at Washington otters have made the saline lagoon their home. Because otters eat mainly fish, you’ll generally find them in areas where there are plenty of this food source. In Ireland the otter population is geographically widely spread. The 13 extant otter species are all semiaquatic , aquatic or marine , with diets based on fish and invertebrates . Otters: surveys and mitigation for development ... - GOV.UK Discover more fascinating facts about giant otters in our fact file by the International Otter Survival Fund. Otters and their mustelid relatives were once hunted extensively for their fur, many to the point of near extinction. It is a man-made landscape impacted by natural processes - the open water is a result of flooded peat diggings. Despite becoming almost extinct from England and Wales otters have managed to thrive on Scotland’s rugged coastlines and wild moorlands and today otter numbers there are thought to exceed 8,000. The species was driven to near extinction in some areas between the 1950s and 1970s, but thanks to improvements in water quality and greater protection it can once again be found across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and – as of 2011 – every county in England. Until 1998, it was thought to have been extinct, but small populations have been discovered since then. Giant river otters are huge at over 1.5 metres in length. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. Eurasian otter numbers began declining in the 1950s until the species became almost extinct in England and Wales, although a small population survived in Scotland. This animal can easily be observed during the day as it rests on tree branches or rocks. Otters in the UK face several new dangers, despite their success in recolonising some of their old haunts. Otter numbers in the UK have increased slightly in recent years but the Eurasian otter is still classed as … This species once had an extensive distribution from the Cauquenes and Cachapoal Rivers to the Magellan region in Chile, but is now restricted to seven isolated areas from Cautín to Futaleufú due to overhunting. Otters aren’t the best at covering their tracks which is a great help to anyone on the lookout for one. Eurasian otters are indigenous to the UK and can be found in either fresh or salt water, although it’s usually known as the river otter for the obvious reason. Summary. Talk to any fisherman along the coast, and you’re likely to hear that they just saw one that morning – sometimes trying to pillage their catch! Welcome to the UK Wild Otter Trust! In the UK IOSF is the only charity solely dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters based on years of scientific research in the UK and around the world. There are many reasons for this, including their small size, a high metabolic rate, a complete reliance on their fur for thermal isolation and long periods spent floating in the water where oil has collected. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. Otters are largely solitary, semi-aquatic mammals that get most of their food from lochs, rivers or the sea. They leave the protection of their mothers at 10 – 12 months and can breed at 2 years old. Perhaps the most foolproof location for otters is the Isle of Mull. In the UK, otters almost became extinct in the fifties and sixties because of rivers contaminated with chemical residues. Otters seek clean rivers, filled with food and overgrown banks where they can raise their cubs. For many years our native Eurasian or European otter (scientific name Lutra Lutra) has been on the brink of extinction in the UK and spotting one in the wild would have been almost impossible, but today you are more likely to see one than at any time in the last 60 years. 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