Otters have a long, slim body with a powerful tail which they use when swimming. The giant otter is found in South America in a range of countries including Peru, Venezuela and Brazil. 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. Their eyes are high on their head so they can still see even when most of their body is submerged underwater. They also eat crustaceans, frogs and even small water birds. Otters in the UK face several new dangers, despite their success in recolonising some of their old haunts. 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. The South Korean population is endangered. Meet the adorable members of the otter family from around the world. On boulders or rocks either in river or near the river, A group of river otters is known as a romp. This animal can easily be observed during the day as it rests on tree branches or rocks. Author Miriam Darlington, in her book Otter Country, described the hide at Kylerhea on Skye as an ‘Otter haven’. They are native … In the UK, otters almost became extinct in the fifties and sixties because of rivers contaminated with chemical residues. The Sea Otter is the only species that have a shorter and less muscular tail. agreeing to use our cookies. There is some debate as to whether the Congo clawless otter is a separate species to the African clawless otter (A.capensis), but it is considered a separate species by the IUCN Otter Specialist Group. 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. Otters leave spraints in prominent places, such as fallen trees, weirs and bridges, as 'scented messages', helping them to find mates and defend territories. Otters are shy and elusive creatures, so if you really want to see them when you visit Shetland (when we’re open for business again!) Otters communicate using their spraint (droppings). @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. However, between the 1950s and 1970s, their numbers significantly dropped, prompting conservationists to sound the alarm bells for one of UK’s beloved animals. Few animals among Britain’s native wildlife are as endearing as otters. Because otters eat mainly fish, you’ll generally find them in areas where there are plenty of this food source. Otters are carnivorous mammals with thick fur and webbed feet. 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! Today, the species is flourishing across Scotland, and recovering well across the UK as waterways are cleaned up. The return of the otter to waterways across the country is one of the UK’s top conservation success stories. For coastal dwelling otters, oil spill is a real danger. They are a greeny black colour and are often described as smelling like flowers! Male otters are known as “dogs”, females are “bitches” and the offspring are “pups”. Otters are ready to reproduce when they are from 2 to 3 years of age. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Even though there are more of them about otters are still hard to spot. 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. They leave the protection of their mothers at 10 – 12 months and can breed at 2 years old. 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. Spotted-necked otter. Otters are regularly recorded here, and there is also the chance to see large numbers of wildfowl in winter. They have two types of fur, … The little owl is a native animal of the United Kingdom, and it was introduced in this region in the 19th century. 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. Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! If you don’t see one, you can always visit Martin Mere or London Wetland Centre to see some of our resident Asian-short clawed, or Slimbridge to see our North American river otters (they’re not nocturnal, so you’re more likely to get a glimpse.). Already have an account with us? 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. While hunting and habitat loss played a part, pollution of our waterways from agricultural chemicals was devastating to otter populations. More and more traces of drugs and medicines, and the plastic pellets found in exfoliants, are being found in rivers, and they’re also being found in otters’ bodies. 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 … Over 100 different components have been identified within otter droppings and some of these are thought to contain information on sex, age and even individual recognition which can be used by other otters, All otters basically have two layers of fur - a longer outer layer and a softer denser layer underneath. Their favourite habitats include wetlands, rivers and coastlines. The indented coast lines, rich in seaweed and with freshwater nearby in rivers and pools make the perfect otter habitat. As the largest otter, it can reach up to 2m in length. Along riverbanks and waterways, look for five-toed footprints (about 6-7cm long) and droppings or 'spraints'. About the National Non-Native Species Secretariat. However, following a series of escapes and releases, by 1956 it was apparent that there was a self-sustaining feral population. Otters declined catastrophically throughout England in the late 1950s. 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. In Italy, they can be found in southern parts of the peninsula. Known for their playfulness, otters are found all over the world including the UK. Otter droppings, or spraints, are often used to mark territory – look for them along the river bank or on rocks. Barton Broad - The largest Broad in the Ant Valley. There are 13 extant species of otter around the world, one of which is native to the UK. 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. A raft typically contains 10 to 100 animals, but the largest raft ever seen contained over 2000 sea otters. In other regions the otter shares aquatic habitats with species specialised to different habitats such as sea otters, but in Ireland the otters that live at the coast and those that occupy our rivers are the same species. Otters are thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of oil. Welcome to the UK Wild Otter Trust! Species. 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). Where do otters live? Status: Near Threatened … Otter cubs only open their eyes about five weeks after they are born. It is one of the rarest otter species. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. They are creatures of habit and tend to follow the same routes, travelling as much on land as they do in water. Posted in: 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 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. Sea otters are native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. We use cookies on this site to improve your user experience. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. In freshwater they feed on trout and salmon. Scotland is the best place in the UK to see them and particularly on the coast, where they are generally more active during the day. 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. Otters are noisy creatures and you might well hear them before you see them. In local areas its presence will depend on the provision of suitable aquatic habitats, sufficient food and cover fo… It is a gregarious species, living in groups of up to 20 individuals, and will attack potential predators such as caimans. American mink Mustela vison were introduced to the UK at the beginning of the 20th century, and are now considered an invasive species. At Slimbridge there are regular otter visitors to the Kingfisher Hide and at Washington otters have made the saline lagoon their home. 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. The Scottish population is estimated to be around 8000 otters. Smooth-coated otters occur throughout much of the Indian Subcontinent in Java, Sumatra and Borneo, northward to south-western China, east through Nepal and Bhutan and India to Pakistan, excluding the Indus Valley. Also known as the Cape clawless otter, the African clawless otter is found through much of sub-Saharan Africa. 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. The west coast of the Highlands, the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Mull are great otter strongholds, where they can be hard to miss. Ireland 's otters are geographically widespread and believed to be the most stable population in Europe. The number of otters is increasing in Norfolk. Thanks mainly to conservation efforts, in the early 1990s these chemicals were banned and as water quality slowly increased so did otter numbers. 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. But don't mistakenly call these beasts 'sea otters' – they are still our native otter, and not the different North American sea otter. The South American river otter can be found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats throughout Chile and Argentina. 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. Discover more fascinating facts about giant otters in our fact file by the International Otter Survival Fund. 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! Otters have five claws so it’s easy to tell an otter footprint from most other animals. Until 1998, it was thought to have been extinct, but small populations have been discovered since then. Otter numbers in the UK have increased slightly in recent years but the Eurasian otter is still classed as … Cubs are usually born in a holt in a bank, or between rocks or tree roots. 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. Thanks! Due to trapping, water pollution and habitat degradation, the numbers of North American river otter had declined through most of their range by the early 1900s. It is a man-made landscape impacted by natural processes - the open water is a result of flooded peat diggings. Extremely few individuals survive in Vietnam, southern Thailand, Sumatra and Cambodia, mainly due to poaching. 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